Conservation Clips is a collection of articles distributed by the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) that provides 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. 

NACD Blog: Sussex Conservation District Demonstrates Planting Green

On Tuesday, Aug. 20, Delaware’s Sussex Conservation District held its annual Soil Health Field Day. This year, the theme was ‘Planting Green.’

Ohio’s Country Journal: Conservation In Action
By Matt Wilde

More than 100 people from across the nation recently got an up-close look at the latest in conservation practices aimed at improving water quality from Iowa to the Gulf of Mexico during the Conservation in Action tour, hosted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC).

High Country News: When public lands become tribal lands again
By Anna V. Smith

Thinning and reintroducing fire through prescribed burns would be a top priority for the more than 17,000 forested acres the tribe received through the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act in 2018.

Star Tribune: As monarch butterflies vanish, University of Minnesota investigates road salt as culprit — and cure
By Greg Stanley

Too much sodium is toxic for butterflies and can delay or hinder their muscle development. But smaller amounts may prove beneficial.

Quanta Magazine: Soil’s Microbial Market Shows the Ruthless Side of Forests
By Gabriel Popkin

In the “underground economy” for soil nutrients, fungi strike hard bargains and punish plants that won’t meet their price.

Tulsa World: The big shift: 2019 floods moved acres of land, changed landscapes
By Kelly Bostian

Water has been the story of the summer of 2019, with floods and record rainfall, but the true subject of a flood is land that has been inundated, scoured away, and sometimes lost.

SCIENMAG: Wildfires Could Permanently Alter Alaska’s Forest Composition

A team of researchers led by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) projected that the combination of climate change and increased wildfires will cause the iconic evergreen conifer trees of Alaska to get pushed out in favor of broadleaf deciduous trees, which shed their leaves seasonally.

Montgomery Advertiser: Climate and change: How a hotter world could transform Alabama’s forests
By Brian Lyman

Drier conditions could affect key parts of the timber industry by transforming Alabama’s woodlands.

Pew: Soil Health Can Combat Climate Change From the Ground Up
By April Simpson

Just this year, at least 10 states have introduced new soil management policies that call for further research or data collection, or offer tax exemptions, technical assistance or even grant money to, among other actions, plant cover crops, diversify crop rotations and reduce tillage that can tear apart beneficial fungi.

NBC News: How the Amazon’s fires, deforestation affect the U.S. Midwest
By Erik Ortiz

The continued loss of vegetation in the Amazon could have a cumulative effect, not only in contributing to climate change but also affecting rainfall patterns around the globe, including the U.S. Midwest, threatening food production and destabilizing ecosystems, according to the experts.

Bridge: Battle looms over laws to slow spread of invasive species in Great Lakes
By Jim Malewitz and Sarah Whites-Koditschek

At least 80 invasive species have arrived in the ballast water transatlantic ships take in and discharge for balance.

Daniel, Andrew, and Ken Snyder
Piedmont, SD

“All the different bugs of the soil that are taking it apart, that are disassembling a complex item that the cow put on the ground, and they’re taking that back into the soil for the benefit of everything else that’s growing to make the whole cycle start again.” -Andrew Snyder

Andrew Snyder ranches with his grandfather Dean, father Ken, mother Ronda, wife Tacy, brother Daniel, and sister-in-law Jenna near Piedmont, SD, nestled against the Black Hills between Sturgis and Rapid City. Together they run a cattle operation which includes cow-calf pairs, bred heifers, and stocker cattle, as well as the cropping of a diverse range of forages and cover crops. The Snyders are beginning to utilize cover crops on top of no-till practices in order to grow additional forage out of season for grazing. This, along with rotational grazing on forest units and native grasslands, is driving a soil health system which benefits not only the cattle above ground but the wide variety of organisms that live below it.

Bob and John Rittberger, Hermosa, SD

“Take care of the land or it won’t take care of you” — Bob Rittberger

2019 Grassland Stewardship Communications Project Partners: The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, South Dakota State University, Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, SD Game, Fish and Parks, SD Soil Health Coalition, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and SD Grassland Coalition.

USDA is an Equal Opportunity Provider, Employer and Lender.

September 19, 2019 — 1:00 pm

Please join us for this fun-filled day! Click on the picture for more information.

September 4-6, 2019
Kurt and Kathy Stiefvater farm near Salem, SD

Designed for agriculture producers and others interested in managing their soils for resiliency and profit, the Soil Health School brings together soil health experts, experienced producers and those new to soil health, to discuss tried and true management practices.

“Attending the Soil Health School changed my whole perspective on soil,” explains Don Nickelson, a Frederick farmer. Prior to attending the Soil Health School, Nickelson had been struggling to farm saline areas of a field. He implemented what he learned and instead of crops, he planted salt-tolerant perennial grasses for grazing and forage. “Today, I think about treating the cause of soil issues, instead of symptoms. I’m doing this with my kids in mind. I want to pass on good soils and management principles instead of bad habits.”

During the Soil Health School held on Kurt and Kathy Stiefvater’s farm, participants will get to see for themselves how management practices like no-till and cover crops impact soil health. They can check out soil pits to see how roots burrow into soil structure and allow for water and nutrients to penetrate the clay and the alkaline earth. Stiefvater will also demonstrate how soil health practices improve soils resistance to compaction and ruts as well as livestock integration. Plus, there will be plenty of time for Q & A with experts and experienced producers like SD Soil Health Directors and Stiefvater.

Registration is limited, so do not wait. Send in your registration today!! “For anyone interested in soil health, this is one of the best events to attend,” says Leola farmer, Trevor Zantow. “The presenters are not only involved in the practices but are knowledgeable of the science. This experience helped build my confidence to change my farming practices.”

To attend the 2019 Soil Health School, register at www.sdsoilhealthcoalition.org and click on the Events tab.

For more information on the Soil Health School, the scholarship available or if you have questions about the event, contact Cindy at sdsoilhealth@gmail.com or call 605-280-4190.



Crop Diversity and Livestock Integration with Jesse Hall, Arlington, SD

“Some of the land that we farm is quite hilly, and it’s been farmed now since the late 1800’s. A lot of those hills over the years, there’s no topsoil left. That type of impact is something we have to deal with right now. Whoever farms this land after me, whether it’s my son or my daughter, I can eliminate some of the problems so that they don’t have to deal with those problems later.” — Jesse Hall

Watch this video to learn how Jesse Hall and family are working to build soil health in order to mitigate seasonal challenges on land that has been farmed since the late 1800’s. Instituting a three-way rotation, in combination with the no-till his father began, has allowed for a reduction in weed pressure, better infiltration, the flexibility to plant cover crops and integrate livestock, as well as an increase in overall yields. Together these practices have helped to drive a soil health system which is not only improving the land but increasing profitability along the way.

Here’s the latest edition of Conservation Clips

Conservation Clips is a weekly collection of articles distributed by 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: Maryland District Promotes Next Generation of Conservation Leaders

Prince George’s Soil Conservation District (PGSCD) in Maryland is leading the way in educating the next generation of conservation leaders.

NACD Blog: RCD of Greater San Diego County leads collaborative approach to battling wildfire

The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Greater San Diego Countywill use funds from the California Department of Conservation (DOC) and the California Natural Resources Agency to further regional work on reducing local wildfire threats and impacts.

NACD Blog: Grant SWCD and partners helping to restore New Mexico forestlands

As a single-person, part-time office, the Grant Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has its work cut out when it comes to implementing on-the-ground projects, so the SWCD is partnering with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to undertake forest restoration in New Mexico.

NACD Blog: Jefferson CD helps educate policymakers on wildfire funding needs

The Jefferson Conservation District (JCD) is putting a face on forest conservation issues in Colorado by testifying before state legislators and showing them the benefits of continuing to fund program grants at the state level.

The News-Gazette: New numbers show conservation soil-tilling method as profitable as conventional ways
By Ben Zigterman

New data from the Precision Conservation Management initiative shows that a conservation farming method known as strip till can be just as profitable as conventional ways farmers till their soil.

KTIC: NRCS Announces $1.9M Research Investment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced $1.9 million in funding for 15 Soil Science Collaborative Research projects focused on soil science and soil survey research.

Sustainability Times: Growing cover crops can help save pollinators and birds
By Darunee Sukanan

Species of arthropods and other small animals play a key role in global food production, serving as they do as pollinators for cultivated plants.

Popular Science: A great climate comes from happy soil. Could happy soil come from California?
By Ula Chrobak

Policy makers have started to pay more attention to soil. And California—the largest agricultural economy in the U.S.— is the first state to enact a policy that specifically addresses climate through soil conservation.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Massive juniper tree-cutting project aims to aid sage grouse
By Keith Ridler

The largest-ever project in the U.S. to remove thousands of juniper trees to help imperiled sage grouse has started in Idaho. The project that began last spring in Idaho aims to remove junipers on 965 square miles (2,500 square kilometers) of state and federal land.

Indiana Prairie Farmer: Why other states follow Indiana’s lead on conservation
By Tom Bechman

There is a strong partnership in Indiana when it comes to conservation. Everyone is on the same page, singing from the same hymnal. Based on anecdotal evidence from some visiting farmers, it’s not like that everywhere.

UPI: Invasive fish, snakes tracked with high-tech databases, maps, DNA
By Jean Lotus

Fish scientists on the hunt for non-native species are using an array of sophisticated techniques, including high-tech databases, storm maps and DNA samples to track destructive newcomers to U.S. waterways.

AP News: Wildfire acreage way down in California this year – so far
By Brian Melley

Acreage burned through Sunday is down 90 percent compared to the average over the past five years and down 95 percent from last year.

Science CodexGlobal change is triggering an identity switch in grasslands

They discovered grasslands can be surprisingly tough–to a point. In general, grasslands resisted the effects of global change for the first decade of exposure. But once they hit the 10-year mark, their species began to shift.

Nature: Soils linked to climate change
By Cornelia Rumpel

Carbon has been stored in the organic layers of boreal-forest soils for hundreds of years. An analysis reveals that this carbon might be released into the atmosphere as global warming increases the frequency of wildfires.

USA Today: First-ever mandatory water cutbacks will kick in next year along the Colorado River
By Ian James

‘An era of limits’ for the Colorado River: Mandatory cuts in water deliveries will take effect in 2020, reducing supplies for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

The Washington Post: The future of U.S. wildlife conservation could fall on this beetle
By Robert Gebelhoff

(Opinion) As the Trump administration tries to recategorize how threatened the American burying beetle is, our willingness to save the beetle or let it get squashed will also determine whether professionals in government beat out partisans and whether science prevails over special interests.