Why is soil health important? Getting down to the nitty gritty, soil is the foundation upon which our daily lives and livelihoods rely.
Most of the Great Plains, of which Western South Dakota is part of, have always been considered a semi-arid area of the U.S. This region is characterized by hot, relatively short summers, and usually cold, dry winters.
During 2016 crop season South Dakota experienced moderate to dry condition across much of its landscape which had some thinking of a repeat of previous droughts. During early August the U.S. Drought Monitor showed over 50% of South Dakota in moderate drought or worse. About 9% of the state was in severe drought, and 5% in extreme drought.
Research that has been conducted with cover crops shows many benefits of cover crops integrated into a conventional cropping system. These benefits include soil health, forage for livestock, break up disease pressure, water quality and weed suppression. A major part of integrating cover crops into cropping systems in South Dakota is knowing what can grow after certain herbicides are sprayed before a cash crop. Results from this study should help producers answer this question and others.
Weather conditions made 2015 a challenging year for SDSU Extension field specialists. However, with continuous up-to date information and leadership by Extension staff and experts, SDSU Extension was able to adjust its programming accordingly. As a result, the 2015 crop season was very successful not only from the point of view of attendance to SDSU Extension programs, but also because of the impacts reflected on crops yields.
The Cooperative structure represents a unique organization type that is governed/owned by the users of the services and products. South Dakota has many types of Cooperatives, some organizations are not readily recognized as Cooperatives however, like mutual insurance, credit unions, etc. More commonly, Cooperatives are associated with Farmer Cooperatives that are prevalent in South Dakota.
SDSU Extension met with farmers frequently during the crop season to provide updates and forecasts of alfalfa caterpillars, weevils, blister beetles, lygus bugs and their natural enemies. Producers were able to make spraying decisions and select chemicals through unbiased information. A pilot project has been set up to understand alfalfa pest status and current practices followed by producers in Butte and Haakon Counties.
Dry field peas and lentils are high in protein and fiber, have a low glycemic index, are easy to prepare, store well, and are low in cost. Even better they can be produced economically and sustainably in South Dakota as part of diverse no-till crop production systems.
Trends indicate that the increasing population of the world will need to be matched by a major increase in food production. However it is and will continue to be very important that as the USA works to find ways to increase food production that it is done without negatively affecting the environment, including depleting the soil resource and reducing water quality.
Participants of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs increase their knowledge of pest biology, pesticide label interpretation, pesticide handling, and environmental factors. This leads to increased use of IPM practices and objective, science-based decision-making on reducing risks from pests and preventing unacceptable levels of pest damage in both agricultural and residential settings. Increased use of IPM practices results in better pest management decisions which address the economic aspects of pest management while posing the least possible risk to people, property, resources and the environment.