Posts Tagged: NRCS

Soil Health: Numbers vs. Knowing

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog, Water.

Sometimes it takes a bit of an evangelist to remind us that praying at the altar of facts and figures can blind one to how they all connect in the bigger picture. In the case of production systems that build soil health, that preacher is Ray Archuleta. “The soil is naked, hungry, thirsty and running… Read more »

Agriculture: How Not to Be Tools of Our Tools

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

One recent August day, I stood in a field in North Dakota watching soil being spaded up and listening to farmers talk about the optimal cover crop seeding mixes, how long to mob graze a paddock and which no-till equipment does the best job of cutting through last year’s plant residue. It was 90 degrees… Read more »

Purebreds, Pluggers & Profitable Soil

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

On a recent August evening in south-central North Dakota, soil scientist Kristine Nichols laid out what I like to call the “purebred vs. the plugger” approach to farming. “With healthy soil, you may not out-yield your neighbor in the best years, but you will out perform them in the not-so-good years,” said Nichols, a soil… Read more »

Teaming with Soil Microbes (part 1)

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

On a crisp morning in September, North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown held two handfuls of soil and searched for signs of life—theoretically not a difficult task considering one teaspoon of humus contains more organisms than there are humans in the world. But many of the bacteria and invertebrates that lurk in the dark basement of… Read more »

Let’s Stop Treating Soil Conservation Like Dirt

Posted by & filed under Food and Sustainable Agriculture.

Here’s the bad news: it turns out the USDA’s estimates that soil erosion rates are under control across the Corn Belt—something we reported in this blog last June—are probably overly optimistic, according to a report released a few days ago. The good news? Actually, there is none in this case. The same week this report… Read more »

How to ‘Deal’ with NRCS, Drain a Wetland & Erode More Soil

Posted by & filed under Food and Sustainable Agriculture.

While driving in southern Minnesota this week, I gazed upon acre-after-acre of  black fields—a sign that despite a wet fall, a lot of intense tillage took place before the snow flew a few months ago. Such tillage not only gives crop farmers a jump-start on the spring planting season, it also provides a nice cover… Read more »