Soil is where it startsoil is where it all begins. “If we don’t have healthy soil, then we can’t grow healthy food and we aren’t able to have healthy people,” Abbey Wick, assistant professor of soil health-extension at North Dakota State University, said during Tuesday’s agriculture workshop at Biesiot Activities Center.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
Soil is where it all begins.
“If we don’t have healthy soil, then we can’t grow healthy food and we aren’t able to have healthy people,” Abbey Wick, assistant professor of soil health-extension at North Dakota State University, said during Tuesday’s agriculture workshop at Biesiot Activities Center.
The workshop was hosted by Dickinson State University, North Dakota State University Extension Service, Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education Program, Society for Range Management and BKS Environmental Associates Inc.
That is why it is important that the soil be treated properly when it is turned back over from oil companies to farmers, who plan to reuse the land for agricultural purposes.
“The state has really changed its focus to soil health in recent years,” Wick said. “It wasn’t something that was really talked about in the ‘70s, but the soil health is important to the ability of soil to function within an ecosystem’s boundaries.”
When it comes to the reclamation of farmland, Wick said it is important to handle things, like high sodium and sulfur levels that are common in soil where there has been a pipeline, in a timely manner to make sure the land can stay productive.
“Sodium is a tough parameter to deal with,” Wick said. “High sodium levels in the soil, which often is a problem on reclaimed lands, is difficult to manage, but it can be managed with a buffer between what grows and the sodium. Create enough of a barrier between the bad material, like sodium, and the crop so that you can make the crops grow.”
During the reclamation process that will get the land back to use, it is important for the landowner to consider what long-term use they want the property to have, whether it is agricultural or otherwise, and plant accordingly, said Wayne Duckwitz, manager of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service materials center in Bismarck.
“The NRCS has resources to help people select the proper grasses to select that will be adapted to North Dakota and your region,” he said. “But none of that will matter if the seeding is not done at the proper time because then it will just be a crapshoot, so it is important to hit the optimum time.”
Brenda Schladweiler, reclamation specialist with BKS Environmental Associates Inc. in Gillette, Wyo., recommended salvaging soil during the warmer, drier months, as to protect against wind and water erosion.
“I think that is especially important to me because I see several municipalities ignoring wind and water erosion in their subdivisions and in their commercial developments and it is pretty sad to see that soil blow away,” she said.
Schladweiler cautioned landowners to watch how much they move the subsoil in their fields and to keep movement at a minimum.
“Don’t ignore your soil,” she said. “It’s important to understand the information about soil and to plan ahead for areas that may give you problems, but don't move the subsoil too much.
“The more the subsoil is moved, the more powdery it will get. It may look pretty that way, but sometimes the stuff that looks to prettiest is also the stuff that will blow away the fastest in the fields.”
Tags: soilMore from around the web