FEATURE – HEALTHIER SOILS TO GET THROUGH DROUGHT

INTRO: When it comes to drought relief, most eyes look to the sky. But now some USDA experts are suggesting that a least part of the drought solution is not above us – but below us – in the soil. The USDA’s Bob Ellison has more. (1:32)

FARMERS USING SOIL HEALTH MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS ARE FINDING THEIR SOIL TO BE MORE DROUGHT-TOLERANT. THE U-S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE’S NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE IS WORKING WITH FARMERS TO IMPROVE SOIL HEALTH AND FUNCTION TO HELP CROPS SURVIVE DROUGHTS.

Ray Archuleta, USDA NRCS Conservation Agronomist: Runoff is a symptom of poor soil function. The more you can capture that water the better it is and that’s what helps us get through the drought. So, healthy soils will be more resilient against drought, because they have more organic matter in them.

N-R-C-S GIVES TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS WHO WANT TO USE NO-TILL PLANTING, CROP ROTATION, AND COVER CROPS TO HELP SOIL STAY COOLER, WETTER, AND BIOLOGICALLY ACTIVE.

Allen Dean, Farmer, Williams Co.,Ohio: The cover crops have really helped out this year, especially with this drought situation we’re in here in northwestern Ohio. The cover crops allow us to open up the soil and we’re able to get roots down into moisture that’s down deep and also down into the nutrients that’s down in the soil.

Dan DeSutter, Farmer, Attica, Indiana: We no-till and it’s similar to what you do in your yard, or in your flower bed, or to your tree. You mulch that. And we keep the soil cooler and help retain moisture better throughout the season.

Rodney Rulon, Farmer, Arcadia, Indiana: We’ve incorporated things like cover crops on quite a few of the acres. Things to encourage the biology and the water infiltration and all of those things. It seems like the no-till with the cover crops really handles that stress better.

FOR MORE HEALTHY SOIL INFORMATION, CONTACT YOUR LOCAL N-R-C-S OFFICE. I’M BOB ELLISON FOR THE U-S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.