List of Soil Conservation Practices

alexander terrace built
A newly built terrace and drain for 2016 which replaced an old ditch which had been growing deeper

This is a list of soil conservation methods and landforms currently utilized on my farms.  For each of these items in the list I could write an essay, and on many of them I will.  Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is a good reference for understanding these practices and landforms.

Currently used permanent landforms and water runoff control work:

  • Terraces for surface water deflection are present.
  • Terraces which are drained are used and maintained to slow excess surface water.
  • Grassed waterways are created and maintained.
  • In-Crop waterways are made with level bottoms to distribute any surface water.
  • Large rocks are placed where water exit erodible zones in fields and as water stream breaks at drain pipe and culvert exits.
  • Grass is sown in some waterways, steep banks, and gullies.
  • Manufactured net-mats are used to hold sod in some areas prone to washing.
  • Grass is maintained in roadside ditches.

Current Field Practices for Soil Conservation:

  • Almost 100% of acres are year-after-year no-till with the proper equipment on planters and drills.
  • Field compaction is minimized, obviating the need for tillage:
    • GPS and RTK correction signals are used to consolidate field traffic to the same tracks every year.
    • Field work is delayed until conditions are most favorable and not likely to form compaction
    • Poorly drained areas of fields are tilied by slope, soil type, and history.
    • Tire pressure on tractors and implements is kept at optimal levels for compaction reduction.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) counsel is sought and procedures implemented.
  • Winter crops are utilized as cover crops: wheat and canola.
  • Cover crops are planned in fields subject to erosion because of slopes.
  • Some CRP grass field borders are planted.
  • Some non-CRP grass field borders are left.
  • Non-subsidized buffers are left between fields and trees.
  • Some areas which are prone to flooding and poor drainage are left in native plant species.
  • Regular scouting is performed for conservation issues.
  • Scouting is performed during and following heavy rains to detect problems and conservation issues.
  • Bi-annual maintenance and repair is made to drain pipes, ditches, and terraces.
  • Humus soil amendments are being tested to improve water infiltration rates and total water holding capacity which would minimize runoff.
  • Planned flooding of some cropland in the winter controls washing from large rains.
  • Aerial scouting is conducted by weekly in-season satellite WDRVI imagery updates and by drone to detect problems not visible from the road.
  • Trees on field borders minimize wind erosion.
  • Crushed limestone is applied as-needed to improve water infiltration rates (hydraulic conductivity) and water holding capacity.