PROFILES IN SOIL HEALTH
Neuharth Family, Fort Pierre, SD

“I think my dad’s motivation to start all of this was to make better what he had, to make it work for you without having to go out and be a great big farm, to grow quality crops to be able to market, and to have the land here for our future generations. That’s one of my big goals, to have it here not only for my children, but my children’s children.” — Levi Neuharth

This Profile in Soil Health follows the journey of the Neuharth Family as they have worked to build soil health and increase diversity in the plants they grow and the animals they raise near Fort Pierre, SD. Levi Neuharth’s father, David, began by transitioning the farm to no-till, and the family has since worked together to increase diversity in their crop rotation, plant full season and after harvest cover crops, integrate livestock onto cropland, as well as to utilize various grazing management practices. With an overarching goal of preserving and enhancing the land for the future, all generations continue to learn and work together to increase the diversity and health of the entire operation.

Visit https://sdsoilhealthcoalition.org/educational-resources/video/ to view already released videos!

IT’S TIME TO PUT TOGETHER YOUR TREE ORDER FOR 2021!

The 2021 tree order form is ready to go, just waiting for you to complete and return! Take a look around your place and put your wish list together. Please note that the orders are due by March 3, 2021. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 605-330-4515 ext 3 or email us!

SOIL HEALTH COALITION’S SEPTEMBER 2020 NEWSLETTER

Here’s the latest edition of Soil Visions, the Soil Health Coalition’s newsletter! If you’re interested in learning more about specific topics, contact the Soil Health Coalition with your soil health questions and/or visit the technical resource pages of their website.

INCREASING ADOPTION OF SOIL CONSERVATION PRACTICES

Farmers who make soil health a priority are more likely to rotate three or more crops and to graze livestock on cropland, according to a survey of producers in South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska.

Newswise — Farmers who make soil health a priority are more likely to rotate three or more crops and to graze livestock on cropland, according to a survey of producers in South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska.

The survey examined why some agricultural producers prioritize soil health and how to encourage more producers to adopt these conservation practices, according to assistant professor Tong Wang of South Dakota State University’s Ness School of Management and Economics. This is the first study addressing what motivates Northern Great Plains producers to adopt these practices.

The research is part of a four-year, nearly $4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture project that seeks to evaluate the impact of an integrated crop and livestock management system that involves using cover crops, such as oats, for grazing as part of the crop rotation plan. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture project, which involves 26 scientists from five universities, is led by associate professor Sandeep Kumar of SDSU’s Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science.

SOURCE: Newswise

FARMER DISCOVERS STARK EVIDENCE OF PAST EROSION

An excavation project in farmer David Kruger’s field revealed that almost all of the topsoil had eroded from the top of a low ridge down a relatively gentle 7% slope. If not for Kruger’s good soil health practices, the problem could have been worse.

As a kid, Twin Brooks farmer David Kruger watched his grandfather fight erosion using a very hands-on method.

“I remember him going to the ditch along Highway 12 and hauling the dirt out of the ditch and back onto the field with a loader,” Kruger said.

That was a powerful memory, but Kruger wasn’t thinking about erosion when he first learned about no-till farming practices years later as a student at Lake Area Technical Institute, now named Lake Area Technical College.

Instead, he was thinking about moisture and long days of picking rocks.

SOURCE: South Dakota Soil Health Coalition

DISTRICT OFFICES WILL BE CLOSED FOR LABOR DAY

Just a reminder that our offices will be closed on Monday, September 7, in recognition of Labor Day.

On this day, we especially want to thank all those who work hard to ensure that conservation practices are implemented!

OUR AMAZING GRASSLANDS
Dean and Candice Lockner, Ree Heights, SD

Healthy agricultural lands are important for wildlife

Dean and Candice Lockner of Ree Heights, SD, notice increased wildlife presence on their lands after planting some fields back to grasses and improving their soil.

This short video will be broadcast by various South Dakota television stations in the first two weeks of September.

NACD OFFERS POLLINATOR-THEMED EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Pollinators like bees, birds and bats can do so much for ecosystems and benefit people. Imagine a world without any pollinators! No bumblebees or hummingbirds or even wasps to carry pollen from one plant to the next. While we may not notice their hard work, we would certainly notice it if they were gone. Without pollinators, we would also have a hard time meeting the demand for food around the world.

This is why teaching youth about the importance of pollinators and how to protect them is crucial. Educators and parents who are looking for fun and hands-on ways to engage students in pollinator activities can access our Pollinator Field Day Curriculum Guide. This K-8 curriculum provides a variety of resources for you to explain the connection between pollinators, plants, and people. With the pollinator guide, students will learn about the importance of pollinators and plants, as well as have access to pollinator activities that can be done right in the classroom or at home. Browse through the multiple pollinator lessons and stations, crossword puzzles and challenge spelling, coloring pages and much more.
The guide is an excellent resource and can be downloaded for free as a PDF, both in color and in black and white. NACD also provides both English and Spanish translations from the NACD Conservation Education Hub.

In addition, the Richland County and the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in South Carolina recently released a great educational video called “What’s Blooming?,” featuring three of their pollinator demonstration garden’s plant species: lemon bee balm, blanket flower and clasping coneflower. This is another video from their “Watch & Learn” video series, which can be found on Richland SWCD’s website.

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH CONSERVATION ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

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: The National Wild Turkey Federation, COVID-19 and Beyond
By Matt Lindler
08/17/20

With more than 47 years as a leader in wildlife conservation, science-based wildlife and habitat management, and an advocate for hunters’ rights, the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is a respected voice in the conservation community throughout the United States.


SARE: National Farmer Survey Documents a Wide Range of Cover Crop Benefits as Acreage Continues to Expand
08/19/20

Despite the crippling rainfall that significantly delayed planting across much of the country in 2019, more than 90 percent of farmers participating in a national cover crop survey reported that cover crops allowed them to plant earlier or at the same time as non-cover-cropped fields. Among those who had “planted green,” seeding cash crops into growing cover crops, 54 percent said the practice helped them plant earlier than on other fields.


KRCG: Iowa farmers, agriculture industry in ‘uncharted territory’ with derecho recovery
By Mary Green
08/20/20

Iowa’s agriculture secretary said the state’s farmers and agricultural industry are in “unchartered territory” in storm recovery, and they might not know the full extent of derecho damage until the harvest next month.


Hoosier Ag Today: NRCS Invests $650,000 to Improve Water Quality in Indiana
08/20/20

Indiana State Conservationist Jerry Raynor is pleased to announce that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest over $650,000 in new projects this year targeting high priority watersheds throughout the state.


The FERN: Can grazing save endangered grasslands?
By Lynne Curry
08/19/20

An alliance of scientists and ranchers is working to prove that cattle grazing can stave off development, support ranch economies and preserve biodiversity on a treasured Oregon prairie.


The Guardian: Extreme weather just devastated 10m acres in the midwest. Expect more of this
By Art Cullen
08/17/20

(Opinion) Unless we contain carbon, our food supply will be under threat. By 2050, U.S. corn yields could decline by 30 percent.


NPR: Farming Releases Carbon From The Earth’s Soil Into The Air. Can We Put It Back?
By Brent Baughman, Emily Kwong and Geoff Brumfiel
08/18/20

Traditional farming depletes the soil and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But decades ago, a scientist named Rattan Lal helped start a movement based on the idea that carbon could be put back into the soil — a practice known today as “regenerative agriculture.”


Star Tribune: On Minnesota farm, experiment could change how farmers get costly nitrogen
By Adam Belz
08/14/20

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have built small-scale prototypes of machines that can make nitrogen fertilizer out of air and water. Kennedy Research, an ag startup in Murdock, Minn., is negotiating with university officials for a licensing agreement to build a larger prototype that it could sell to farmers.


Sustainable Brands: Strengthening Collaboration Between Farmers and Landowners Key to Improving Conservation
By Amy Roady
08/14/20

The relationship between non-operating landowners, which own 62 percent of Midwest farmland, and the farmers to whom they rent land is vital to achieving wide-scale adoption of soil-health and nutrient-management practices across U.S. croplands.


Civil Eats: Perennial Vegetables Are a Solution in the Fight Against Hunger and Climate Change
By Virginia Gewin
08/19/20

Perennial agriculture—including agroforestry, silvopasture, and the development of perennial row crops such as Kernza—has come to prominence in recent years as an important part of the fights against soil erosion and climate change. Not only do perennial plants develop longer, more stabilizing roots than annual crops, but they’ve also been shown to be key to sequestering carbon in the soil.


Albuquerque Journal: Planning for New Mexico’s water future
By Theresa Davis
08/16/20

Key to a long-term plan is acknowledging that future water supplies may be unreliable in the face of climate change, said David Gutzler, a climate scientist and professor in the University of New Mexico’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department.


Science Daily: Cover crop mixtures must be ‘farm-tuned’ to provide maximum ecosystem services
08/18/20

Researchers, in a recent study, were surprised to learn that they could take the exact same number of seeds from the same plants, put them in agricultural fields across the Mid-Atlantic region and get profoundly different stands of cover crops a few months later.


Scientific American: California Looks to Battle Mega Wildfires with Fire
By Jane Braxton
08/20/20

The effort marks a milestone in California’s pivot away from a century of suppressing fire at all costs and toward working with it instead—using controlled flames to restore ecosystems that evolved to burn in frequent, mostly low-intensity blazes.


Phys.org: Plants take in less carbon in a warming world
By Dominic Jarvis
08/20/20

As world temperatures rise, the rate at which plants in certain regions can absorb carbon dioxide is declining, according to University of Queensland research.

FREE MATERIALS FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR!

Get ready for the new school year with National Association of Conservation District’s (NACD) 2021 Stewardship and Education materials, celebrating the theme “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.” With trees and forests around the world under threat, having environmentally literate and conservation-minded kids is more important than ever. NACD’s materials provide the needed information to teach and promote tree and forest conservation at home and in the classroom.

The materials can be downloaded for free through NACD’s Conservation Education Hub or Marketplace, and they can be printed and purchased locally or on-demand through Goetz Printing.

MOONRISE PICTURES AT THE GEVIK LEARNING AREA!

How cool is this?! Some visitors at the Gevik Learning Area shared with us their pictures of the moon rising! Thank you, Mary Dearborn and friends!

If you like to get out in nature, the Gevik Learning Area is the place to go! There are walking trails with interpretive signs to explain what you’re seeing. If you’d like more detailed information that coordinates with the signs, or want to make this a family education opportunity, please print our Walking Trail Guide before you go. The guide can also be viewed on your phone as you walk, but sometimes the writing gets pretty small.

The Gevik Learning Area is 1/2 mile west of Wall Lake, or 1/4 mile north of the intersection of 266th Street and 462nd Avenue, about eight miles west of Sioux Falls.

We hope you enjoy your time there! Please remember to keep your furry friends on a leash. The critters who live at the Gevik site appreciate your cooperation!

HABITAT TIP: MAKING A PVC KILL STICK

Conservation Blueprint’s Peter Berthelsen explains how to create a PVC “Kill Stick” to help you manage invasive tree species in this Habitat Tip.

To learn more about wildlife and pollinator habitats, see more great tips, or send an inquiry about your own project, visit conservationblueprint.com/.

AUGUST BOARD MEETING POSTPONED!

The Board has decided to postpone the August meeting.  The next Minnehaha Conservation Board meeting will be held on Monday, September 14th at 3:00 p.m. at the Gevik Learning Center.

Please update your calendars accordingly. Thanks!

OUR AMAZING GRASSLANDS
NACD South Dakota Board Member — Fran Fritz, Iroquois, SD

The South Dakota Grassland Coalition (SDGC), in partnership with several organizations, is working to raise awareness on the importance of healthy soils, grasslands, and ecosystems by releasing a short video story each month during 2020, as a part of a series called “Our Amazing Grasslands.”

This month’s story features National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) South Dakota board member Fran Fritz’s farm in Iroquois, SD.

Partners involved in this project include the Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and South Dakota State University. Learn more about SDGC here.

NEW SIGN AT THE DEWEY GEVIK OUTDOOR LEARNING AREA!

Special thanks to Mick Zerr and the Sioux Falls Bird Club for the new sign at the Gevik Learning Area, and Pheasantland Industries for doing a speedy, excellent job with the sign!

The Dewey C. Gevik Outdoor Conservation Learning Area has been developed as an interpretive educational experience open to the public. This learning area emphasizes conservation practices, their design, function, and beneficial relationship to the environment. Through the information presented, individuals will reach a greater understanding and appreciation for wildlife, the environment, and the need for conservation of our natural resources for future generations.

Conservation practices established at the learning area are: grassed waterway with rock weir structure, shelter belt plantings, native grass plantings, rock crossing, and a natural wetland. These practices have been built and will be maintained to give the general public a better understanding of the benefits of conservation.

The Gevik Learning Area is 1/2 mile west of Wall Lake, or 1/4 mile north of the intersection of 266th Street and 462nd Avenue, about eight miles west of Sioux Falls.

SOIL HEALTH COALITION
July 2020 Newsletter

The latest edition of the Soil Health Coalition’s “Soil Visions” newsletter has now been released. Click on the image below to view the full PDF. Are you interested in learning more about specific topics? Contact the Soil Health Coalition with your soil health questions and/or visit the technical resource pages of our website.

SOIL HEALTH PARTNERSHIP RELEASES 2019 COVER CROP REPORT

Earlier this month, the Soil Health Partnership (SHP) released its 2019 Cover Crop Planting Report. SHP conducted a cover crop survey with SHP farmer partners about their cover crop use on trial sites in the fall of 2019.

SHP’s report shows that farmers are using diverse strategies to plant cover crops and a variety of plant species to accomplish their soil health goals.

The objective is to do this annually and use the data to further analyze how cover crops impact soil health, agronomic outcomes, and farmer profitability.

To read the report, click here.

PROFILES IN SOIL HEALTH
Nickelson Family, Frederick, SD

“There’s challenges every year, and every year is a different challenge. What I’ve found in my soils, building the organic matter, having a better soil health, allows me to weather through whichever weather or storm I am faced with.” — Don Nickelson

 

This Profile in Soil Health, featuring Don and Trista Nickelson, is the fourth of five videos to be released in 2020. The Nickelson’s monitor and work to improve the health of their operation by utilizing practices such as regular soil testing, no-till, diversity in crop rotation, livestock integration, cover crops, precision ag, as well as bale and rotational grazing. These practices have allowed them to respond to challenges such as variability in rainfall across the land they farm and ranch, as well as to work to regenerate saline areas. The family started exploring soil health upon Don’s return from college. They began to use no-till practices with the goal of reducing labor, while maintaining yields. The Nickelson’s are doing what they can now to overcome challenges, through the benefits created by the soil health practices they utilize.

DOWNLOAD P2’S NATIVE POLLINATOR GARDEN RECIPE CARDS

The Pollinator Partnership (P2) recently released a collection of region-specific Native Pollinator Garden Recipe Cards, which are made possible by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC).

The recipe cards were designed to provide easy-to-follow guidelines for creating pollinator gardens that provide a diverse and colorful floral display throughout all growing seasons.

The suggestions given for specific native plant species were made to meet the unique environmental characteristics associated with each region and the pollinators that depend on native habitat areas. Each recommendation was thoroughly vetted by multiple conservation authorities. The Minnehaha Conservation District is holding their native flowers and perennials sale right now; you can order your pollinator garden plants until July 31, 2020.

To learn more and download a recipe card, visit P2’s website.

NATIVE FLOWERS AND PERENNIALS SALE

It’s that time of the year again when we’re having our native flowers and perennials sale! This will be a 3-week sale so your orders will need to be in by July 31, 2020. Here’s the order form with prices and what we have available!

Let’s make those yards beYOUtiful!