by Ben Nuelle
Monday is World Soil Day. Soil is the farmer’s most valuable resource.
Roger Zylstra grows corn and soybeans on highly erodible ground in Jasper County.
One way he manages his ground is no-till planting and cover crops.
“As soon as we get done harvesting fields, we have the opportunity now because we have labor available, but we get in there and drilling a cereal rye and an oats mixture right as soon as we get the soybeans harvest and right after we get the corn down we’re doing the same thing.”
Zylstra has been planting cover crops for three years. Although, this the first year they cover most of his fields.
Most farmers are concerned cover crops affect yields. Zylstra says he did notice that planting cereal rye so he added an oats mixture.
“It’s extremely critical not to have to heavy of a rye stand out there and to get it terminated in a timely fashion,” Zylstra says. “What we’ve really seen is even in that short of time, it looks like the soil health is improving. We have better tilth and better managing some of the wet spots in the poorly drained fields. It looks to be working out.”
Zylstra has one field in the Soil Health Partnership program.
The Soil Health Partnership brings together diverse partner organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies, universities and environmental groups to work to improve soil health.