My name is Kalen Hartel and I am a sophomore at Watford City High School. I have been doing a soil health project on my grandpa's farm since I started seventh grade. This is a six-year project throughout my high school career. I wanted to update everybody on how things have been going.
A cover crop mix of radish, turnip, sunflower, cowpea, sudan grass, millet, vetch and soybean were planted on July 15, 2010.
This cover crop mix was no-tilled into Winter Triticale and Hairy Vetch stubble that was hayed several days prior. All of the cover crop grew tremendously well and was very thick. We got a few cold days later on in September which killed the warm-season plants. The turnips and radishes, being a cool season crop, were still green at the middle of November. Any green plants have root systems that are continuing to provide a way for the bugs in the soil to make natural nitrogen for this year's crops. We had to put up an electric fence around the field to keep my grandpa's cows from grazing it. We want all of the above-ground forage production to remain on the field to increase organic matter levels next year.
Kalen Hartel is a student at Watford City High School.
The cover crop mixes are great for replenishing nutrients in the soil that your annual crops take away, along with catching of snow fall. The NRCS office put on a field day last fall that consisted of several local farms with cover crops planted. We started on my field and I talked to the farmers about my project and my goals and future plans for the project. John Stika, a Soil Scientist from the Dickinson Area NRCS office explained about how the bugs function in the soil.
This spring we will come back with an annual cash crop and no-till right into the cover crop with a disc drill. No man-made fertilizer will be applied with the hope that the cover crop and bugs supply natural nutrients to the crop.