Farmers and conservationists gather again in Ames Thursday and Friday. Iowa State is hosting its 2nd Soil Health Conference. The topic is not water quality but soil health. Dave Archer is an economist with USDA’s Agriculture Research Service. He works at the Great Plains Research Lab in Mandan, North Dakota.
“We’re really interested in practices that might build soil health and then what that can do for economic returns. We also look at if it pays to manage soil health and what the best ways are to do that.”
Farmers constantly care about the bottom dollar and if there is money to be made.
“I think that is important,” Archer says. “Really it is going to be difficult to convince them if it does not make sense economically. That is why we are looking at how farmers are able to make a profit doing it.”
Archer says in their area of North Dakota they have seen benefits.
“We’ve seen benefits by increasing crop diversity. Adding more crops to our rotations and providing rotational benefits but adding soil carbon at the same time has reduced risks and been more profitable in the long run.”
He adds the one thing you should do if you plan to start participating in conservation practices to improve or sustain soil health is be patient.
Day 2 of the Soil Health Conference begins at the 8:00 a.m. Friday at the Scheman Building at Iowa State University in Ames.