Organic Field Day

Participants see how tillage radish and crimson clover work as cover crops.

Participants see how tillage radish and crimson clover work as cover crops.

Improving Soil Health

Wilson Organic Farms
Cuba City, Wisconsin

Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014

“Very educational. Enjoyed the hands on and the personal interaction with the growers.”
C.W. Whittemore, Iowa

Planting organic soybeans in a rye mulch builds soil fertility while the crop is growing.

Planting organic soybeans in a rye mulch builds soil fertility while the crop is growing.

This field day showed how cover crops, both living and as a killed mulch, can contribute to healthy soil and profitable farming. Proof was in the heavy pod set on Keith Wilson’s organic soybeans which are growing in a rolled and crimped rye mulch—“impressive” was the word of the day. Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel illustrated the health of the soil in this field by digging a soil pit where they pointed out earthworm trails and deep roots, showing where water and organic matter can move through the soil to aid in crop growth. University of Wisconsin researchers as well as seed suppliers discussed the numerous strategies and opportunities for both this “organic no-till” system as well as the benefits of diversity of cover crops and  “cover crop cocktails.”

We also viewed another field where tillage radish and crimson clover were growing. This field will be planted to corn next year. These cover crops lessen soil compaction and add organic matter to the soil.

Tillage radish is “prepping” this field to run corn next year.

Tillage radish is “prepping” this field to run corn next year.

The Wilsons are continually experimenting with a variety of strategies to improve soil health improving. They plan to continue to use the practices reviewed during this field day, due to the resulting healthy and abundant crops they’re harvesting. Many attendees stated they will consider incorporating these practices on their own farms as well.

Thanks to this NRCS soil pit, field day participants go “underground” to see signs of soil health.

Thanks to this NRCS soil pit, field day participants go “underground” to see signs of soil health.

The group finds the Wilsons’ soybean field “impressive.”

The group finds the Wilsons’ soybean field “impressive.”

This healthy field of organic soybeans is growing in a rolled and crimped rye mulch.

This healthy field of organic soybeans is growing in a rolled and crimped rye mulch.

MOSES Organic Field Days

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