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Soil Health

All Soil Health Content

Cover crops growing in a field of harvested corn.
Dec 10

South Dakota Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Meeting

The SD Soil and Water Conservation Society will be hosting a free online conference on December 10 at 1 p.m. CST.

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.
Dec 09

Got Salinity? Virtual Discussion

SDSU Extension would like to invite the public to a virtual discussion about saline issues on December 9 at 10 a.m. CST.

Earthworms on the soil surface inside a white hard-plastic ring, after mustard-vinegar solution was drained down through the soil profile forcing earthworms out onto the surface in order to be counted.

How’s Life in the Soil? Ask (Count) the Earthworms.

Earthworms are ‘very special’ creatures on earth, and their contribution in soil nutrient cycling and fertility management has been acknowledged from the beginning of agriculture. So, the question needs to be asked, how can we help improve earthworm populations?

Two rows of corn at V5 leaf growth stage looking down from above. Between the corn rows there are 3 separate cotton strips placed on the soil surface just before burial in a 2-inch-deep trench. The cotton strips are numbered for their identification after recovery at three different dates.

Cotton Strip Soil Test: Rapid Assessment of Soil Microbial Activity and Diversity in the Field

Soil has always been considered as a living system due to its biological components: fungi, bacteria and plant roots. Under several ongoing research projects, we started researching how we can use ‘cotton strip assay’ to compare different cover crop mixes to optimize field soil activity and build up better soil health.

A series of beaver dam analog structures built to limit rangeland erosion.

Range Roundup: Riparian Health Project Started in Western South Dakota

Riparian health is critical to prairie systems. Over the last five years, federal, state, NGO and university partners and producers in Northwest S.D. were involved in a needs assessment that identified riparian health as an area of significant concern across Western S.D.

A green combine that has caught fire in the field.

Avoiding Field Fires During Fall Harvest

With dry and drought conditions in the late summer and fall, crops dry down rapidly and harvest starts early. The climate outlook may be favorable for an uninterrupted run at harvest. However, the risk of fires during harvest is always a concern for farmers.

A dirt road leading to a winder energy station in the middle of a grassland area.

Understanding Contract Language and Restoring Native Grassland Damage after Energy Development

Energy development on private lands can result in locally heavy land manipulation. Of particular concern is the manipulation of native grasslands and other sensitive areas and how it will affect those areas in the short-and-long-term.

Field with livestock grazing with a crane and wind turbine in the background

Best Management Practices Guide for Restoration of Native Grasslands and Sensitive Sites Resulting from Energy or Industrial Development

A general guide to South Dakota landowners who are considering or who have allowed energy or other industrial development on their property.

Field of mixed cover crops containing oats.

Cover Crop Considerations for 2020

Producers across South Dakota are harvesting small grains. These crops provide an excellent window for adding a cover crop into your rotation.

A group of red and white calves grazing in a field of switchgrass.

Integrating Perennial Crops in Annual Crop Rotations

The Dakota Lakes Research Farm is working to develop cropping systems that include perennial crops, such as switchgrass, big bluestem and alfalfa, to improve long-term soil health and farm productivity.