Dryland Cropping System to be Focus of Upcoming Nebraska Soil Health School

by Nicole Heldt, Research Project Coordinator Maharjan Soils Lab, UNL PREEC

Nebraska Soil Health School
The Nebraska Soil Health School at UNL’s High Plains Ag Lab will include soil health demonstrations and the live rainfall simulator from USDA NRCS soil scientists. Photo by Nicole Held

March 12, 2024

Lincoln, Neb. —The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) will host a Nebraska Soil Health School, sponsored by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), on Wednesday, April 24, at UNL’s High Plains Ag Lab (HPAL), 3257 Rd. 109, Sidney. Registration and refreshments will begin at 7:30 a.m., followed by a welcome from the event’s organizer, Bijesh Maharjan, UNL associate professor.

Following last year’s successful Soil Health School events across the state, this year, we plan to organize events specific to issues facing our growers in a given area, Maharjan said. The Nebraska Soil Health Schools are designed to build upon soil-related knowledge and practices for growers, crop consultants, ag professionals, and others. The HPAL event will focus on soil health topics in relation to dryland cropping systems with the following presentations:

  • Soil Health – Byproduct of improved soil and crop management practices: Gary Peterson, CSU professor emeritus
  • Impact of tillage, biochar and cover crops on soils at the High Plains Ag Lab: Cody Creech, UNL associate professor and Fenster Professor of Dryland Agriculture
  • Soil health measurement and carbon market: Bijesh Maharjan with Jessica Groskopf, UNL extension educator economics
  • Impacts of tillage systems, crop residues and cover crops on soil water and yield in semi-arid dryland systems: David Nielsen, retired USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research agronomist.
  • NRCS soil health demonstrations and live rainfall simulator: Carlos Villarreal, USDA-NRCS state soil scientist and Riley Hackbart, soil scientist, USDA-NRCS
  • High Plains Ag Lab research plot tours

We are fortunate to have two prominent keynote speakers at this event. Drs Nielsen and Peterson dedicated their careers to finding management solutions to address dryland cropping issues. They are well known among farmers, crop consultants and scientists throughout the Great Plains and other semi-arid regions of the world for their work on improving cropping system water use efficiency and profitability while protecting the soil resource.

“It is important for agricultural producers to understand the relationship between yield and available soil water at planting (AWP), and how to increase AWP with no-till management practices,” Nielsen commented. “This knowledge can aid in designing profitable crop rotations that are more intensive, lower fallow frequency than the wheat-fallow system.”

To attend the event, pre-register at https://unlcba.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3lr2CyTPO8AkWIC.

There is no fee to attend, and a full lunch will be provided. Certified crop advisor Continuing Education Units will be offered.

The full agenda can be found here https://preec.unl.edu/nebraska-soil-health-school-0 

For more information or questions, email nheldt@unl.edu or call (308) 632-1230.

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