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									                                                                Press Release
100547 Airport Rd, PO Box 280 Scottsbluff, NE 69363-0280
PH: 308-632-2749     FAX: 308-632-4346 www.npnrd.org


No Till Notes

Date: For the week of Feb. 9, 2010


    Cover Your Acres
By Mark Watson, Panhandle No Till Educator
    I recently returned from a trip to Oberlin, Kansas where Kansas State University and
the Northwest Kansas Crop Residue Alliance hosted their 8th annual Cover Your Acres
conference. I was invited down to speak on field peas and forage rotations in a no till
cropping system. I walked away from this two-day conference very impressed with their
meeting.
       I was particularly impressed with Dr. Humberto Blanco, a soil physicist with
Kansas State University. Dr. Blanco talked about the benefits of no till in relation to soil
quality. His research has shown that adopting no till crop production practices will
reduce soil compaction in your fields. One of the main reasons for this is the
accumulation of organic matter in the top layer of the soil. This increase in soil organic
matter makes the soil more elastic, improves soil aggregation, enhances microbial
processes and reduces the bulk density of the soil.
       This decrease in the bulk density of the soil with the increase in soil organic
matter reduces the susceptibility to compaction of the soil. Dr. Blanco’s research showed
a decrease in yield as a direct result of increased soil compaction.
       Dr. Blanco’s research also showed the benefits of residue on the soil surface.
With residue on the soil surface and the increase in soil organic matter wind and water
erosion are greatly reduced. Another key component in crop production is the increased
soil aggregate stability with increased organic matter in the soil. Increased soil organic
matter provides the organic binding agents which join micro-aggregates together into
stable macro-aggregates. These macro-aggregates provide greater stability in the soil
structure and increased porosity in the soil. This allows water to infiltrate into the soil



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and increases the pore space in the soil which increases the water holding capacity in the
soil.
        Dr. Blanco’s research confirmed what many of us who have adopted no till crop
production practices have known in our own fields. Leaving the previous crop’s residue
on the soil surface and increasing organic matter in the soil has many benefits. No Till
Crop production practices with diverse crop rotations can improve the physical properties
of the soil, reduce erosion, increases soil organic matter and improves the quality of the
soil which we work with.
        The Cover Your Acres conference proved to be very informative. Other topics
covered were nitrogen placement in no till, grain marketing, long term crop rotation
results, cover crops, and many other interesting topics. I would encourage anyone who is
interested in no till crop production to attend next year’s conference. This conference,
along with our local conference in Gering, and No Till On the Plains winter conference in
Salina provide excellent educational opportunities for learning more about the evolving
practices in no till crop production.
        Your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in cooperation with
the South Platte NRD, will be hosting three no-till crop production meetings in February.
These meetings are for anyone interested in no-till crop production practices.
        The purpose of these meetings is to be educational and establish a network of no-
till producers around our area. These meetings will be informal and the focus will be on
adopting and improving no-till practices on your farm.
        Meeting times and locations are as follows:
        Kimball – Kimball County Fairgrounds – Feb. 11, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
        Sidney – WNCC Sidney Campus – Feb. 11, 1:30 to 4:00 pm
        Chappell – Chappell Fire Hall – Feb. 12, 9:00 a.m. to noon
        I hope that you are able to attend one of these meetings. No preregistration or
RSVP is needed, just show up.
        If you have specific questions that you wish to discuss, contact me at 308-760-
5259 or by email at mwatsonntec@charter.net




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