Evaluating Soil Health
Everyone is talking about soil health, so we thought we should too. We chat a bit about what exactly is soil health with Jamie Patton of UW-Madison's Nutrient and Pest Management program and Brendon Blank, a farmer and Byron Seeds rep from Ixonia, WI, and importantly, how do you measure progress?
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12. Drawing Down Soil Test Phosphorus32:33Field Notes reporting from the field, well, the bar. We sit down with Mark Keller of Kellercrest Holsteins of Mt. Horeb and Chelsea Zegler, Outreach Specialist with Extension's Ag Water Quality Program, at the Mt. Vernon Tap to talk phosphorus and how farmers can work to draw down excessive levels and save money in the meantime. Mark recounts the Pleasant Valley Watershed Project that worked with farmers in the area to adopt conservation practices like reduced tillage and cover crops for forage, which reduced soil test and water phosphorus levels by 40%, which meant big fertilizer savings. And Chelsea discusses pathways for phosphorus loss and ways to mitigate and keep the dollars in your fields.
11. Farming + Solar = Agrivoltaics34:17There is a lot of solar being sited in Wisconsin with some projects reaching a pretty massive scale. The traditional narrative has been hello solar, goodbye agriculture, however a new crop of farmers, researchers, and solar companies are thinking differently: how can we continue to farm this land between, under, and around solar panels? Steffen Mirsky from Extension's Cutting Edge Podcast joins us as we talk with Sarah Moser, director of agrivoltaics with Savion, a utility-scale solar developer, and Eric Romich, Extension Field Specialist in Energy Development with the Ohio State University about their current and future projects investigating how to grow and mechanically harvest hay under solar in Ohio.Photo taken by Tobi Kellner and used under creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
10. Rotational Grazing in Drought32:57Drought affects pasture as well as crops. During these dry times, what are the considerations that graziers need to keep in mind to optimize forage, and what are the advantages that a rotationally grazed system gives us when we're short on water? We talk with Mary C Anderson, Wisconsin DNR Grazing Specialist, retired dairy farmer, and current grass-fed/finished beef farmer and Kevin Mahalko from the Gilman, WI area, a grass-fed dairy farmer and president of Grassworks.
9. Strip Tillage32:47No digg-it-y. No doubt? On this episode of Field Notes we dig into the question: to till, or not to till, or somewhere in between? Strip tillage is not as common in Wisconsin as full width tillage or no till, but it presents an opportunity to reduce soil disturbance and improve soil aggregation, while also gaining some of the benefits of full width tillage like early season soil warming and fertilizer incorporation. To explore some of the benefits and logistics of the system, we talk with Dr. Francisco Arriaga, an Associate Professor and Soil Science Extension Specialist at UW Madison, who specializes in soil physics and soil management and Sam Johnson, a strip-tilling farmer near River Falls, Wisconsin.Photo taken by Alan Manson and used under creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode
8. Ag, Water, and Processing Vegetables31:39Guolong Liang, outreach specialist for the Agriculture Water Quality Program of Extension in the Central Sands of Wisconsin, guest hosts this episode of Field Notes. Guolong talks with UW-Madison Horticulture Professor and Extension Specialist Jed Colquhoun about the use of cover crops to reduce nutrient runoff in canning and processing vegetables. For the farmer perspective, he chats with John Ruzicka of Guth Farms in Bancroft, Wisconsin and Dylan Moore, a Seneca Foods Field Representative, about Guth Farm's journey in integrating no-till and cover crops into their processing vegetable rotations.
7. Nitrogen Management and Climate Change35:17When we think of nitrogen leaving the fields, we often think of nitrates leached down to groundwater, but the mobility of nitrogen is not just downwards. Nitrogen can also leave the field and be lost to the atmosphere in the form of nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas. But this is no laughing matter. Nitrous oxide is almost 300 times as warming as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and 80% of our nitrous oxide emissions in Wisconsin come from agriculture. We talk with Diane Mayerfeld, the Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator with UW-Madison Extension to break down the science and discuss what farmers can do about it, and how it might have positive effects in their own operations.
6. Frost Seeding Red Clover25:54March is mud month in Wisconsin. While this season may not be particularly pretty on the eyes, the freeze and thaw of the soil presents farmers with an opportunity to seed small-seeded plants like clovers into a fall-established wheat crop. The benefits are numerous: weed control, diversity, nitrogen for the following corn crop, forage and grazing opportunities. We cover it all with Jefferson County farmer Scott Schultz.
5. Digital Agriculture29:51Data is the currency of the future. What does this look like for farmers? We sit down with Drs. Emily Bick, Extension-funded field and forage crop entomologist with University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Jim Eckberg, a scientist with General Mills, to find out. We talk on how sensors and imaging can help build back biodiversity and soils as well as how industry is working to spur the transition along.Image adapted from USDA photo by Peggy Greb under creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode