More and more farmers and ranchers are becoming interested in practices that can improve the health of their soil as a means of improving productivity, profitability and/or resiliency to weather extremes.
If you would like to learn more about what some producers in the area have been doing to improve their soil health, make plans to join the Soil Conservation Districts, NDSU Extension Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Ag Improvement Associations in Williams and Divide counties for a soil health tour on Tuesday, August 2.
The tour will begin at 1:30 pm at the Justin & Sara Jacobs farm with the starting point being a field 3 miles north of the junction of Highway 2 and 125th Avenue NW. To provide a reference, 125th Avenue NW is 2 miles west of the junction of Highways 2 and 42.
The Jacobs’ started farming on a small scale in 2016 and have been slowly expanding their acreage. One of the primary goals for their farming operation is to make the land they are using better than when they started. They are using practices that improve soil health such as intercropping, no-till and cover crops as they work towards achieving their goal.
Justin will talk about practices that the Jacobs have implemented or plan to implement on their farm. The stop will feature a flax-pea intercrop they have seeded on one of their fields in 2022 as one of the small pieces to the larger puzzle on their path to regenerative agriculture.
The next stop on the tour will highlight a cover crop project with livestock integration as part of Phil & Harlan Johnson’s farming operation. This stop is located 4 miles west of Highway 42 on 87th Street NW with the turn onto 87th Street NW being about 7 miles north of the junction of Highways 42 and 50.
The Johnson’s have been actively pursuing practices to build their soil health for several years and this project is the next step in incorporating the soil health principles through the use of cover crops for livestock grazing.
They were able to obtain cost-share assistance to put perimeter fencing around a couple quarters of land that encompassed not only cropland but also a small acreage of rangeland which hasn’t been used in many years. Part of the cropland will be seeded to cover crops every year to be grazed along with the rangeland through an agreement with a local rancher.
James Roger, NDSU Extension Forage Crops Production Specialist out of the North Central Research Extension Center, will also be on hand to talk about using cover crops as a forage crop as part of the stop.
From there the tour will work its way into Crosby with a couple other potential stops along the way to look at a pea-canola intercrop and a winter rye-hairy vetch intercrop.
The last stop on the tour will be the Divide County Soil Conservation District’s building located on the southeast edge of Crosby, north of New Century Ag’s truck stop along the highway.
Justin Jacobs, who is also a research specialist with the NDSU Williston Research Extension Center, has a demonstration of 48 different intercrop mixes along with the 7 base crops planted as monocultures seeded on the SCD property and will talk about some of the interactions he is seeing in the study.
Following the conclusion of the tour, all tour participants are invited to stay for a supper that will be served at Divide County SCD building.
Those planning to attend are asked to pre-register for the tour by July 29 so we have a fairly accurate count for the supper. To pre-register you can contact Kelly Leo, NDSU Extension agent in Williams County at 701-577-4595 or email Kelly.email@example.com; Travis Binde, NDSU Extension agent in Divide County at 701-965-6501 or email firstname.lastname@example.org; Keith Brown at the Williams County SCD at 701-648-9841 or email email@example.com; or the Divide County SCD at 965-6601 Ext. 3.