SDSU Extension partners with new South Dakota Soil Health Coalition

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Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S. D. – SDSU Extension has partnered with the recently launched South Dakota Soil Health Coalition (SHC).

“Our state’s number one industry is dependent upon soil health. It’s the collective vision of the coalition to increase sustainable agriculture production through diversification and improved soil health,” explained Sandy Smart, Professor & SDSU Extension Rangeland Management Specialist.

Led by a farmer/rancher board of directors, the S.D. Soil health Coalition was established May 19, 2015 with the clear mission: “To promote soil health.”

This new coalition was initiated by members of the S.D. Grassland Coalition (SDGC) with encouragement from SDSU Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and many others.

Selby rancher, Doug Sieck, is Chair of the Soil Health Committee of the SDGC. After discussion, the group agreed that it was desirable for the SDGC to continue to provide leadership in fostering the statewide development of the S.D. Soil Health Coalition, with the probable long-term goal of the new SHC becoming its own entity. Committees are working on bylaws, articles of incorporation and other facets of a new organization.

“Based on past experiences, the best way to share information and receive buy-in is through learning communities,” said Smart. “When you have a group of farmers and ranchers who believe in the same mission leading the charge, partners will come along side to help.”

He further explained that improving the state’s soil health begins with the state’s landowners. “If I go out and encourage farmers and ranchers to implement research-based practices, like no-till and cover crops, the message will not be accepted as quickly – or implemented by as many producers – because I am not a farmer or rancher. But if a peer shares the same message, along with examples of how these practices improved their land’s soil health and in turn increased production and profits, their neighbors will listen and make changes.”

The Board of Directors Charter for the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition includes: Dennis Hoyle, Ipswich, Terry Ness, Pierre, Levi Neuharth, Hayes, Doug Sieck, Selby, Bryan Jorgensen, Ideal, Al Miron, Sioux Falls and Dan Forgey, Gettysburg.

Outreach is a large task for this board of fulltime farmers and ranchers, but Smart said through partnerships with SDSU Extension, NRCS and others, they have a strong support team and access to resources.

To learn more about the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition and become involved, contact Sandy Smart by email: alexander.smart@sdstate.edu.