Planting spring wheat? Read on

Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society
Farm Forum

We know microbial communities are influenced by management, but to what degree and how do the services they provide differ with management?

There’s a study starting the Summer 2020 focused on biological function in agricultural systems in North Dakota. In the past, North Dakota State University has worked hard to build information on the chemical properties of soils (fertility, salts, organic matter), physical properties (aggregation, soil texture, water movement) and have been making headway on biological communities, but there’s still questions about how soil microbial community function across multiple agricultural systems – a state-wide study. This is part of the Agribiome Research Initiative at NDSU and led by NDSU research faculty, Samiran (Sam) Banerjee.

Sam’s statewide project will include 200 or more fields in North Dakota – with five to six fields per county sampled three times in 2020. All soil types, management and tillage intensity are going to be included (approximately 160 fields), along with grasslands and organic systems (approximately 20 fields of each). The only requirement that will be the same across all fields in the study, each field (outside of the grassland sites) will be seeded to spring wheat for 2020.

Sam is hoping to sample organic farms in the context of the 200 in the study. At this point more organic farms in the region are needed and he is willing to expand the boundaries of the study to include farms in South Dakota and Minnesota. NPSAS is working with NDSU to secure farmers for the study as we recognize this is a great opportunity for participating farmers to learn more about the soil health on their farm.

What producers will receive from this work

Participating producers will receive a specific report for their fields. The report will contain information on a range of soil properties as well as soil functions. In addition, we will create soil health and microbial diversity indices for all fields. This would show how the soil health of a specific field ranks in comparison to other fields across the state.

They have a cooperator list of North Dakota farmers about half complete and need more cooperators in North Dakota. Specifics of your field will be kept confidential and you will receive information (e.g., soil health and microbial diversity) specific to your fields at the end of the study. If you are interested in participating, contact Sam ( or his research specialist, Kim Zitnick Anderson (; cell: 240 298 2164).