Good Tillage and Conservation Practices Improve Soil Health

In our April newsletter we
invited you to take part in an educational
series about the topic of sustainability.
We know that for years, our members
have actively implemented sustainable
practices which have not wavered, even
with the heightened media around
sustainability. We also know that many
growers today educate themselves on
conservation practices to nurture the
land for future generations to come.

Part 2 of our series is about soil
health. Key Cooperative agronomists
receive many questions about soil
health, but this article will specifically
focus on tillage and conservation

Conservation – One conservation
practice that can improve soil health
is the use of cover crops. Since a cover
crop is planted primarily to manage soil
erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water,
weeds and pests, many growers find
cover crops to be a conservation-minded
practice. Cover crop planting in Iowa
has been common for a while now, but
research, demonstration projects and
funding have been highly favorable
towards cover crops for the past few
years. An example of a cover crop is
rye—a grower plants the rye, which
can be harvested and then added to
livestock feed. Along with providing the
grower with an additional commodity,
the cover crop helps keep nutrients in
the soil from leaching out, improving soil

Tillage – Conservation tillage is
any method of soil cultivation that leaves
the previous year’s crop residue (such
as corn stalks or soybean stubble) on
fields before and after planting the next
crop to reduce soil erosion and runoff.
No-till and strip-till involve planting
crops directly into residue that either
hasn’t been tilled at all (no-till) or has
been tilled only in narrow strips with the
rest of the field left untilled (strip-till).
When selecting the correct corn or
soybeans for the soil, Key agronomists
often assist the grower with a comprehensive
soil health plan that takes into
account their tillage practices.

Key is dedicated to educating
our members on current sustainable
practices and the opportunities that we
can economically incorporate into your
operation. Visit with any Key Cooperative
agronomist to join our conversation
about soil health today.

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