From the Executive Director: Field Day Series Previews Soil Data Project Findings

The first three in a series of five field days to discuss soil health research featured farmer-led programs at the Michael Larson Farm in Stephen, Doubting Thomas Farm near Moorhead with Noreen Thomas, the Pfarr farm near Lamberton with Brain and Bill Pfarr and Grant & Dawn Breitkreutz’s Stoney Creek Farm near Redwood Falls. The field days provided a picture of soil health practices across varied types of soils and regions and offered excellent discussion and networking with our farmer hosts, SFA’s Kent Solberg and Zach Paige, and U. of M. researchers Hava Blair, Ann Marcelle Lewandowski and Nic Jelinski.

Field day group next to a soil pit discussing soil features and function. Photo by AM Lewandowski.

Cereal rye, 7-grain mix, Red Fife wheat, and corn fields demonstrate the diversity on the Breitkreutz Farm. Photo by AM Lewandowski.

The goal of the project, led by the Minnesota Office for Soil Health in partnership with SFA, several county Soil Water Conservation Districts, NRCS and the Center for Integrated Agricultural Resource Management, is to compile a regional dataset of soil health tests from working farms across Minnesota, comparing various fields and practices. Samples were collected from 27 farms in Northwest Minnesota, the Red River Valley, Central Minnesota (Stearns County), the Minnesota River area, and Southeastern Minnesota (Mower County). A range of soil physical, chemical and biological properties were measured and evaluated.
The project was funded by a Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA. Information on each of the regions can be found at Findings are not yet prepared but will be issued late this year or in early 2022. The next field day is 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wed., Sept. 1, Wednesday, in Stearns County, with a Mower County field day slated for October. Details and registration here.

Many thanks to the participating farmers who took time, shared expertise and welcomed researchers, other farmers and ag professionals to their farms so we can learn more about the benefits and costs of soil health practices. Photos above by Lewandowski.