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Farmers focus on soil health results in higher yields

When Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) member Kevin Glanz first cracked open his 2020 calendar, he wrote down this year’s goal: To develop climate-smart agriculture by using climate-resilient systems.

It’s actually the continuation of a goal set more than 10 years ago.

A combination of no-till and cover crops has made his farm near Manchester in northeast Iowa more resilient to changing weather patterns, he told an audience at the WMT Ag Expo in Cedar Rapids this week.

“To achieve this goal, we need to develop management practices that will affect the outcome of the weather events that impact yield,” Glanz said. “Then the question is how do we accomplish this economically?”

By minimizing soil disturbance and keeping the soil covered through the growth of cover crops, Glanz has recognized greater water infiltration and higher yields.

“My soil, even on the poorest ground, is acting like a sponge rather than a funnel to other water sources,” he said.

The focus on no-till and cover crops in his overall soil health program has resulted in an average 51-bushel-per-acre yield increase.

He believes no-till and cover crops could be the next era of agriculture, replacing eras which focused heavily on tillage.

The ISA Research team has conducted countless trials on no-till and cover cropping systems. The team has reached out to farmers across the state to test various systems and rotations to help farmers make profitable decisions.

A recent ISA study supported by the Walton Family Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund and Iowa-based Regional Strategic, Ltd., found that farmers who are heavily focused on management are profitable when it comes to using cover crops in a corn/soybean rotation.

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