November 6, 2017
You've probably heard of "No Shave November." How about "No Till November"? That's the name for a special monthlong campaign led by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. As part of that campaign, NRCS is encouraging Nebraska farmers to "keep the stubble" on their harvested crop fields and improve soil health.
The project gets its name from the national cancer awareness "No Shave November" campaign. The "No Till November" campaign encourages farmers to keep a different kind of stubble by parking tillage equipment in their machine sheds this fall and leaving crop stubble on their fields.
"No till farming is a cornerstone soil health practice, which also promotes water quality while saving farmers time and money," says Myron Taylor, acting state conservationist. "One of the first soil health principles is 'Do not disturb.' This campaign is a fun way to remind farmers about the important relationship between tillage and soil health."
Improved soil health through no-till practices leads to increased soil biological activity, which provides erosion control and nutrient benefits, and can simulate tillage.
Keep residue on the field
Corey Brubaker, Nebraska state conservation agronomist, says fall tillage disturbs soil and removes valuable cover that can leave soil exposed and unprotected during harsh winter months. Other field-disturbing practices like baling cornstalks also remove valuable cover and nutrients from the field.
"Farmers who bale cornstalks for livestock bedding or sell it to other livestock producers could be entering into a losing proposition due to the lost nutrient value and soil health benefits," Brubaker says.
Based on current commodity prices and the nutrient value in each bale, Brubaker says farmers should leave crop residue in the field, especially if the fields are highly erodible and subject to conservation compliance.
"The plant residue left in the field after harvest is a valuable resource," says Brubaker. "The value in cornstalks can be better used for reducing soil erosion, providing extra organic matter content in the soil and contributing nutrients back to the soil."
Conservationists at NRCS say the best thing producers can do for their cropland is to leave it undisturbed as much as possible.
This November, they're encouraging producers to not till their fields and keep crop residue in place to replenish the soil.
For more information on how to protect and improve soil quality, contact your local NRCS office or visit ne.nrcs.usda.gov.
Source: Nebraska NRCS
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