MINNEHAHA COUNTY SOIL HEALTH SIT-DOWN!
July 30, 2019
1:00pm – 3:30pm

LEARN HOW TO PERFORM BASIC SOIL HEALTH TESTS IN THE FIELD!

NATIVE PLANT SALE!
Orders due by July 31, 2019

We are having a sale on native perennials, garden perennials, grasses, and vines!

All are in #300 pots and all are $10.50 each.

CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES AND DESCRIPTIONS

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE ORDER FORM

REGENERATIVE AG AND GROWING HOPS TOUR!
Sunday, July 21, 2019
12:30pm – 5:30pm
FREE TOURS! NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED!

COVER CROP “HOW TO” EVENT
August 1, 2019 — 10:00am – 2:30pm
No cost to attend
Free lunch if you sign up before July 24
Hosted by Rock County SWCD
Call 507-283-8862 to register

Conservation Clips is a weekly collection of articles distributed by the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) that provides our members and partners with the latest news in what’s driving conservation. These articles are not indicative of NACD policy and are the opinions of their authors, unless otherwise noted. If you have a relevant submission or need assistance with accessing articles, please contact the NACD Communications Team.


NACD Blog: Mississippi districts, NWTF help to educate the next generation
05/21/19

Mississippi conservation districts are working with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) to educate youth and encourage conservation measures and interest in wildlife habitat management.

NACD Blog: Wyoming district helps restore streambank, improve fish habitat
05/21/19

Saratoga Encampment Rawlins Conservation District and the Brush Creek-Hayden U.S. Forest Service Ra’nger District have been working with other agencies and organizations to improve aquatic habitats by removing or modifying in-channel barriers and stabilizing riverbanks.

NACD Blog: With help from DNR grant program, Michigan districts improve deer habitat
05/21/19

Michigan conservation districts are partnering with local hunting groups, schools and private landowners to fill in forestry gaps and improve deer and other wildlife habitat through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) deer habitat improvement grants in the Upper Peninsula.

NACD Blog: Clackamas SWCD using Community Forest Program to enhance habitat
05/21/19

With a U.S. Forest Service Community Forest Program grant, Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) partnered with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) to acquire 319 acres of forested land to protect and improve for wildlife habitat.

NACD Blog: Wyoming district and partners work to reduce fuel loads
05/21/19

Campbell County Conservation District (CD) is partnering with the Wyoming State Forestry Division and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to address two key issues: thinning forests to make stands more resilient to insects and diseases, such as the mountain pine beetle, and reducing fuel loads to restrict wildfire damage and improve wildlife habitat.

NACD Blog: House Subcommittee Evaluates USDA Farm Bill Conservation Programs
By Coleman Garrison
05/17/19

On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, the House Agriculture Committee’s Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee held its first hearing of the new Congress, welcoming Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Matt Lohr and Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce to review the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) farm bill conservation programs.


The Washington Post: Farms are suffering from climate change and Trump’s trade war. Here’s how to help.
By Art Cullen
05/21/19

(Opinion) Instead of writing a $15 billion check for trade-disaster aid, the government could put the money toward paying those farmers to capture carbon from the air and bury it in the soil by planting grass or small grains such as rye in rotation with corn. The mechanism exists through the Conservation Stewardship Program, which pays farmers for conservation practices on working lands.

Cover Crop Strategies: Carbon Credits by 2020 for No-Till, Cover Crops? It Could Happen This Time
By John Dobberstein
05/17/19

Last March, a coalition of environmental organizations and food companies — the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium — announced efforts to build a market that would pay farmers for carbon sequestration and cleaner water. The program would give farmers credits for their efforts to sequester carbon or protect water quality, and then companies could buy those credits to reach their own sustainability goals. They plan to build the market by 2022.

Forbes: Soil Erosion Washes Away $8 Billion Annually
By Linh Anh Cat
05/21/19

Soil isn’t the only thing that we are losing from erosion. A new studyestimates $8 billion in global economic losses caused by soil erosion reducing crop yields and increasing water usage.

NPR: Senate Reaches $19 Billion Deal For Disaster Aid Without Border Wall Funding
By Tim Mak and Kelsey Snell
05/23/19

The Senate approved a $19.1 billion disaster aid package Thursday that includes money for states impacted by flooding, recent hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as money for communities rebuilding after wildfires.

The Gazette: For Iowa farmers, profiting from cover crops may unlock potential
By Erin Jordan
05/22/19

As the government spends tens of millions of dollars subsidizing cover crops, farmers and experts wonder if they instead should encourage offseason cover crops that can be harvested for a profit — not just killed off before the traditional cash crop is planted.

Minnesota Public Radio: Farmers testing new fertilizer alternative: bacteria
By Dan Gunderson
05/22/19

The bacteria, which have been genetically modified, will help the corn plants convert nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form the corn plants can use as fertilizer. The idea is to eventually replace synthetic nitrogen fertilizer with microbes.

University of California-Merced: Lengthy Study Shows Value of Soil Health and Forest Restoration after Damaging Events
By Lorena Anderson
05/23/19

A nine-year experiment by a UC Merced Department of Life and Environmental Sciences professor and his colleagues is illuminating the importance of soil carbon in maintaining healthy and functioning ecosystems because of its influence on the microbial communities that live in soil.

The New York Times: Ashes to Ashes. Dust to Dust. Or, in Washington State, You Could Now Be Compost.
By Adeel Hassan
05/22/19

For most Americans, there are two main choices after death: burial or cremation. But now people in Washington State have a third legal option: They can have their bodies turned into soil.

Arkansas Democrat Gazette: Officials warn of potentially historic flooding as Arkansas River swells
By Youssef Rddad
05/22/19

Weather officials on Wednesday warned people along the Arkansas River to brace for severe flooding and fast river speeds as projections show potential to break long-set historic records following a rainy late-spring here and in Oklahoma.

The Newsstand: Cover crops can increase soil moisture by as much as 10 percent
By Denise Attaway
05/22/19

South Carolina soils are old and weathered, and Clemson University researchers are working with the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service to teach the public how growing cover crops can help rejuvenate and put some life back into the state’s soils.

The Kansas City Star: Flooded farmers along Missouri would get more say in river management under Hawley bill
By Crystal Thomas
05/21/19

Farmers along the Missouri River, some plagued by flooding this spring, would get more of voice in how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) manages the river under a bill introduced Tuesday by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley. Hawley’s new legislation would create an advisory council with two members from each the seven states along the river: North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Montana, Iowa and Nebraska and Missouri.

PROFILES IN SOIL HEALTH
Charlie and Tanya Totton, Chamberlain, SD

“My goal was to produce more and improve natural resources at the same time. You can do either one of these easily, by overgrazing and producing more or under grazing and improving, but with mob grazing I can get more production and improve my natural resources at the same time.” -Charlie Totton

Watch the third Profiles In Soil Health video for 2019 as Charlie Totton describes the ways in which he has adjusted his grazing management to account for land variation while still ensuring profitability on rented land. Charlie attributes much of what he has learned to his attendance and hosting of the SD Grassland Coalition Grazing School, and shares how mob grazing in particular has had great results for his grasslands. Some of the improvements he has seen include increased water infiltration, or the ability for his grasslands to catch the rain in place, as well as an increase in wildlife species such as grouse, pheasants, deer and birds.

 

WATER QUALITY MATTERS FOR CATTLE ON PASTURE
By Noble Foundation

Written by Caitlin Hebbert, Livestock Consultant, Noble Research Institute

You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you that water is important for livestock and all other living things. The necessity of water is common sense, but what tends to fall by the wayside is just how much of an effect the water quality can have on an animal’s ability to thrive and grow.

We don’t usually forget about water. We know that a lack of water will dramatically and definitely affect cattle health and performance. What we may forget is that water is a nutrient and has nutritional value that can affect livestock as its quality changes. Water varies in quality of nutritional value from one source to the next, just like feedstuffs that have protein, energy, fiber and minerals. It is important not to take it at face value. In other words, we, as stewards of livestock, should evaluate our water sources and be aware of how they change throughout the year. For example, during the summer, our ponds and tanks experience higher rates of evaporation, concentrating elements in water.

LIVESTOCK PERFORMANCE ON TROUGH OR POND WATER

In this study comparing the effect of water sources on average daily gain (ADG), cows, calves and steers on pasture gained significantly more pounds per day when supplied with water pumped to a trough vs. drinking directly from a pond (dugout).

A beef cow can drink up to 5% of her body weight in water per day; a high-producing dairy cow can drink as much as 20%. The quantity of water that animals consume is affected by many factors, including growth, pregnancy, lactation, activity, diet composition, feed intake, environmental temperature and water quality. Water quality and quantity affect feed intake and animal health since poor water quality usually leads to reductions in water, and subsequently a decrease in feed consumption.

Common water quality problems affecting livestock

• High concentrations of minerals (excess salinity)
• High nitrogen content
• Bacterial contamination
• Heavy growths of toxic blue-green algae
• Accidental spills of petroleum, pesticides or fertilizers

Studies have been conducted to examine the effect of water intake levels on cattle weight gain, and have demonstrated that the more water an animal drinks, the more feed it consumes, leading to greater weight gain. Logic may say: “If I have clean ponds with good, clear water and no excess contamination, I should be in the clear.” But it’s not always that simple.

Research also has addressed the direct effect of water source and quality on gain. The two most common types of watering systems for cattle are:

• A trough fed by a well or a spring.
• An impoundment or pond.

One study conducted in Saskatchewan identified a 9-10% increase in weight gain of steers and calves drinking from water pumped into a trough versus those that drank from a pond. Similar studies have observed as high as a 16% increase in gains for stocker steers with access to clean water.

In the Saskatchewan study, there were no significant differences in water chemistry or biological constituents (minerals, dissolved solids, contamination) between trough water and direct pond water; therefore, these gain increases likely reflect greater palatability and subsequently, greater water intake. The aeration that occurs during the pumping process is thought to be one factor
contributing to the increase in palatability of water for livestock. Even further, cattle with access to clean, aerated water have been documented to spend more time grazing and less time resting than those which drink directly from farm ponds.

The bottom line is that even a well-maintained pond rarely, if ever, can compare to water pumped into a trough, as long as the trough water source is good quality and not contaminated. When given the choice, cattle will avoid water contaminated even with as little as 0.005% manure by weight, so your ponds are probably less palatable than you may think. If you’re watering a cow-calf operation, this may not be of any great concern to you. But if you retain your calves or bring in stockers, give your water sources and how you deliver it a second thought. That extra boost in gains per day really adds up, especially in the right market, so ensuring that clean water is available can definitely pay off in the long run.