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A field with patches of soil exhibiting poor water infiltration.

Farm Practices That Improve Soil Health: Cover Crops and Crop Residues

Planting cover crops and returning crop residues (stover) to the soil both adds nutrients and improves overall soil quality. These practices are common with producers across South Dakota and have been recently studied by researchers to identify how they impact the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

A patch of switchgrass growing at the edge of a field.

Farm Practices That Improve Soil Health: Planting Switchgrass on Marginal Lands

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a tall, native, prairie grass that is often seeded on marginal lands in South Dakota. It has gained growing popularity over the past decade not only as a source of biofuel and feed, but also as a method to improve soil properties.

A green tractor planting seeds in a no-till field. Courtesy: United Soybean Board [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

Farm Practices That Improve Soil Health: Crop Rotations and No-Till

Implementing diverse crop rotations and no-till practices are common suggestions to reduce erosion, control pests, and improve yields. These practices can also improve soil health through an increase in soil carbon levels.

Left: Soil from long-term no-till field, exhibiting good soil aggregation through clumping and smaller pieces of soil. Right: Soil from conventionally managed field that included tillage and crop residue removal. Notice the soil is lighter brown, indicating lower organic matter, and the pieces of soil are in larger chunks with no visible indication of clumping or structure.

Organic Agronomy Starting to Impact

For decades scientists have known that a handful of soil contained more micro-biological organisms than the number of humans on earth. Science is just beginning to discover these organisms and learn about their functions and contribution to their soil ecosystem.

A steer standing in a feedlot. Its middle back has a visible bald spot due to lice.

Winter Lice Control

Seeing cattle rubbing hair off due to lice infestations can be extremely frustrating. Not only are the cattle damaging fences and equipment, there also can be performance losses and health issues not to mention that the cattle are simply not as visibly appealing, which can be very important for seedstock producers or feeders selling backgrounded feeders.

Two young swine drinking water in a wean-to-finish facility.

Nursery Pig Performance Impacted by Total Dissolved Solids in Water

Because water quality can vary considerably between production sites, it is important to identify the qualities of water that impact the growth performance of nursery pigs.

a wordmark for the 2020 Soil Health Awareness Day

South Dakota Declares February 21 Soil Health Awareness Day

February 20, 2020

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has declared February 21, 2020 Soil Health Awareness Day. Agriculture contributes over 132,000 jobs and 32.5 billion dollars in total output to South Dakota’s economy.

A dog in the cab of a pickup truck as rain falls.

Preparing to Keep Pets Safe and Healthy During Flood Conditions

As is the case with providing for the care of livestock and other large animals during flooding, a little forward planning for the care of pets can really pay off when considering the disruptions that spring flooding can bring.

A teardrop shaped tan tick with eight legs and brown markings on a white background.

Winter Ticks in South Dakota

Winter ticks, also called moose ticks, are unlike other tick species because they are active during the winter months.

A map of South Dakota with several colored boxes indicating areas of increased flood risk. For a complete description, visit the National Weather Service website at: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/long_range.php?wfo=fsd

Get to Know Your Local Emergency Management Director

The warmer weather and spring migration this March have us all thinking of better days ahead. Unfortunately, it also has us thinking about flooding again this spring.