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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A guide of common dung beetles of South Dakota.
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.
Interest in no-till and cover crops has been on the rise among South Dakota crop producers. In 2019, half of South Dakota crop ground was under no-till management and about 900,000 acres were planted to cover crops.
Soil temperature is an important consideration for deciding when to begin planting spring crops. If producers in South Dakota would like a quick reference for soil temperatures in their area, the SD Mesonet network measures soil temperature at several weather stations throughout the state.