Attendees of the recent Conservation Technology Information Center tour in Livingston County, Ill., heard about the importance of soil health and how it can pay big dividends back to producers … and the consequences of not taking care of the soil.
“We have really degraded our soils in the Midwest,” explained Hans Kok (on the right, pointing to his demonstration of soil quality at a field stop), the coordinator of the Indiana Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (CCSI). He showed some studies where one particular plot of soil had 6 percent organic material in it to just 2 percent today — all because of tillage. “If we quit the tillage, start using cover crops, more intense crop rotations, we can actually bring that soil organic matter back up.”
Hans pointed to corn fields during last year’s drought that weren’t tilled, allowing the roots to go much deeper, as much as four to five feet in the ground, and able to survive the drought much better. He also demonstrated a slake test that showed how a no-till clod of soil stayed together in water much better, indicating more binding organic matter, than a tilled clod.
“You can drive your tractor on those soils when they are fairly wet, and the tilled soil will fall apart.”
He directed those wanting more information to the Indiana Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative website, www.CCSIN.org.
You can listen to Chuck’s interview with Hans here: Interview with Hans Kok, Indiana Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative