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Discovery Farms data sheds light on soil loss

20 years of research is helping farmers better understand soil and nutrient loss.

Minnesota Discovery Farms co-director Tim Radatz says data from 35 farm sites in the Upper Midwest shows 75 percent of runoff happens between May and July.

“It’s that time period between planting and crop canopy. So if we can provide some protection during that time frame, we’re going to really reduce our soil losses and protect those soils.”

Speaking to Brownfield at the Discovery Farms Summit in Minneapolis, he says the level of protection necessary is site specific.

“Any way to protect that ground surface would be beneficial for soil loss. That could be through reduced tillage, perennial crops, cover crops could play a role in that as well. Especially if you have a cover cropping system where they come back in the springtime and provide protection until your primary crop takes over.”

Radatz recommends edge-of-field scouting for soil loss in the spring.  He suggests looking for newly emerged plants being covered by sediment or gullies developing in concentrated areas.

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