Exploring the Soil
A Soil Health Workshop at the Proulx Farm
In the fall of 2021, a soil health workshop was held at the Proulx Farm near Dorothy, Minnesota. The objective of the workshop was to discuss soil health practices, their effect on soil properties, and how these best management practices can benefit farming operations in our area. Some of the lessons learned from this demonstration were:
1. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing implementation of practices
2. Not all soils act and react in the same way
3. It takes time to see the benefits of soil health practices
Five different soil samples (grassy, no-tilled, heavily tilled, and two lightly tilled) with nearly the same soil type were taken from the surrounding area. Each of the samples was examined to learn how the soil would react when stressed with water. Brian Kloster, NRCS Area Soil Scientist, and Eric Anderson, NRCS Area Resource Conservationist, used a rainfall simulator to mimic water runoff and infiltration. They also performed a slake test on some heavily tilled and no-tilled soils.
Brian Kloster said it best, "The overall goal of soil health is to get the soil to function at its highest potential.” Mimicking nature with diverse multi-species cover crops, minimizing soil erosion, reducing tillage and disturbances, and integrating livestock into the system all help to achieve this goal.
Thank you to the Proulx family for their questions and interest in finding out more about soil health and how to achieve it.