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Soil health school expands to west river

Soil health school expands to west river

By Scout Nelson

The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition (SDSHC) is expanding its reach to address the distinct agricultural challenges faced by producers west of the Missouri River. Recognizing the differences in climate and farming practices, SDSHC is launching the inaugural West River Soil Health School on June 26-27 at Dry Creek Farm and Ranch near Caputa, SD.

Western South Dakota presents a unique environment with its drier climate, unsuitable for traditional row crop operations prevalent in the eastern part of the state. Instead, producers in this region primarily focus on forage crops and livestock, making hay and silage key components of their operations.

Dave Ollila, SDSHC Soil Health Specialist, emphasizes the significance of soil health practices in the context of forage crops, as the constant removal of plant residue negatively impacts soil health, leading to soil degradation, reduced water infiltration rates, and storage capacities.

The West River Soil Health School aims to tackle soil health issues by teaching multi-species livestock grazing, cover crop grazing, and soil health practices for irrigation and dryland situations. It uses classroom instruction and field exercises to enhance soil function.

Casey Knuppe, a Soil Health School graduate from New Underwood, SD, emphasizes the transformative nature of such learning opportunities. Knuppe notes that participating in events like these has made him more observant and thoughtful about land management practices and their impacts on the operation.

The school offers networking opportunities for attendees, allowing them to connect with professionals, researchers, and conservationists, which can be beneficial as they implement sustainable agriculture practices in their operations.

The West River Soil Health School is limited to 30 participants to ensure ample interaction with instructors and SDSHC board members. Registration is open on the SDSHC website, with a fee of $100 for the first person from an operation and $75 for each additional attendee. Accommodation options are available at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City.

SDSHC will also host a Soil Health School in Huron, SD, from Aug. 26-28, catering to producers in other parts of the state.

The expansion of the Soil Health School to West River reflects SDSHC's commitment to addressing the diverse needs of South Dakota's agricultural community, fostering sustainability and resilience in the face of evolving challenges.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-sasiistock

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Categories: South Dakota, Crops, Sustainable Agriculture

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