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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 green tractor, pulling a red, high-clearance planter through a field of emerging corn.

Interseeding Cover Crops Effect on Corn and Soybean Production: 2019

Incorporating cover crops into our cropping systems and moving from conventional tillage to no-till can improve soil organic matter, soil structure, and water and nutrient holding capacity of our soils.

Woody looking zucchini plant.

What’s Killing My Zucchini and Squash Plants?

For many of us, this time of year is tough for our zucchini, squash and pumpkin plants. A close inspection of wilting plants may reveal a sawdust-like substance around the soil surface or on the base of the stem. When pushed, the plants typically break and reveal clear evidence of insect feeding through the stem.

Brown beetle with hairy body with black mottled pattern.

What are Those Large Beetles in My Garden?

One of the insects that starts to attract attention this time of year is the bumble flower beetle.

Black beetles with orange or yellow spots feeding on a ripe tomato.

Insects are Invading My Produce!

Ripe fruit that has been injured as well as ground fall fruits often attract undesirable insects into an area.

Black beetles with heads as wide as thorax on brown soybean pods.

Broad-Headed Bugs in Soybean: Should You Be Worried?

This week we received a report of insects infesting a soybean field. However, they weren’t insects that we generally think of when the term "soybean insect pests" comes up.

A herd of sheep foraging on leafy spurge in a grassland.

Multi-Species Grazing as an Alternative to Pasture Spraying

Broadacre spraying of pastures is intended to reduce undesirable plants and increase grasses for livestock. This practice often results in unintended consequences, including damage and reduction of native forbs and reduced profitability. One approach to managing perceived “weedy” plants is incorporating different species of livestock into a grazing operation.

A group of cattle grazing on crop residue.

Farm Practices That Improve Soil Health: Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems

An integrated crop-livestock system can provide an alternative management strategy that benefits producer’s income, soil health, and the environment—all while increasing production.

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.