By Roseann Moring, Omaha World-Herald
Keep living roots in the soil to get more precipitation absorbed. That was a key takeaway from a University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher’s deep dive into water retention practices. The Nebraska Legislature this year approved the creation of the Healthy Soils Task Force. Healthy soils are those with more carbon, or living matter, in it, said Chairman Keith Berns, a Bladen farmer who also runs a cover crop seed business. The benefits of healthy soil, he said, include being better for the environment, producing healthy food and saving money for the producer.
“It works really well and allows them to make more money but it’s also environmentally better,” Berns said. And, yes, it increases water absorption — which in turn helps prevent flooding and erosion. [Aaron Hird, Nebraska’s soil health specialist at the Natural Resource Conservation Service] said every farmer he talked to that had cover crops during this year’s flooding said those fields fared better than others nearby. And cover crops can help the soil recover from the effects of the flood, allowing production to resume faster, he said. Read the entire article here.
The above graphic was published as part of the research Andrea Basche and co-author Marcia DeLonge conducted to analyze different farming practices and soil retention. Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Analysis IDs ag practices to fight flood, drought, by Scott Schrage, University Communication, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
About the Co-Authors
Andrea Basche is Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Marcia DeLonge is Research Director and Senior Scientist, Food and Environment, Union of Concerned Scientists.
Previously Posted Articles
- Nebraskans talk extreme weather. Just don’t call it climate change, Christian Science Monitor
- Soil matters more than you think, by Shauna Sadowski, GreenBiz
A single teaspoon of healthy soil can support more microorganisms than there are people on the planet. These microorganisms play a role in unlocking the soil’s complex network of physical, biological and chemical functions, and scientists are just scratching the surface in understanding these interconnected relationships. What we do know is that healthy soil has the potential to restore ecosystems, increase biodiversity and improve water quality, among other ecosystem services. It also can draw carbon out of the atmosphere and store it underground, helping to reduce greenhouse gases. With 70 percent of sequestered carbon stored in lands directly influenced by agriculture, grazing or forest management, the food industry has a unique opportunity to tackle climate change through better soil management.
- How regenerative land and livestock management practices can sequester carbon, by Shauna Sadowski, GreenBiz. Developing a holistic, inclusive and outcomes-based approach to regenerative agriculture means inviting all types of farmers to the conversation and prioritizing impact measurements at the farm-level. We recognize that farmers are critical to advancing this work, and we want to do what we can to support them and advance their regenerative practices.
National / International Resources
- Climate Collaborative
- Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Organic Farming Research Foundation
- Regenerative Agriculture Alliance
- Rodale Institute
- Soil Health Institute
- RegeNErate Nebraska
- Regenerative Resource Guide
- Natural Resources Conservation Service-Nebraska
- Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources – CropWatch: Organic Farming in Nebraska
- Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
LB 243, to create a Healthy Soils Task Force, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on April 11, 2019 by a vote of 43 to 0 and signed by Governor Ricketts on April 18th.
Featured White Paper
Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming, The Rodale Institute
The white paper from the Rodale Institute found developing tests to measure carbon sequestration is the best chance for quantitatively showing the amount of regenerative agriculture needed to actually help the climate. The trials will find the best ideas and offer support networks for farmers who are already working on regenerative models. “With the use of cover crops, compost, crop rotation and reduced tillage, we can actually sequester more carbon than is currently emitted, tipping the needle past 100% to reverse climate change,” Mark Smallwood, executive director of Rodale Institute, said in the report.
GreenBiz – Natural Climate Solutions: Tap into the Opportunities, November 12, 2019, 10 to 11 am.