SDSU Extension challenges growers to change thinking on crop management practices

Staff reports
Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Healthy soils help regulate water flow, sustain plant and animal life, filter and buffer potential pollutants, cycle nutrients and provide physical stability and support. Healthy soils also provide growers with more stable crop yields by protecting plants from stress. However, increasing soil health takes patience and practice, says Anthony Bly, SDSU Extension soils field specialist.

“Transitioning to soil health systems has been a work in progress for many years,” Bly says. “It’s basically what we do, helping producers make changes on their own operations, because everyone is at a different place and has different resources.”

This month during SDSU Extension’s Crop Hour webinar series, experts will examine best practices for transitioning to a soil health system, the importance of soil microbes and which cover crops can best meet production goals. Participants are invited to join the team Feb. 16-19 from 10 to 11 a.m. CST each day during the Soil Health and Cover Crop Week. Sessions will take place as follows:

  • Feb. 16: "Soil Microorganisms: Helping Them Help You," Michael Lehman, USDA-Agricultural Research Service soil microbiologist
  • Feb 17: "Do the Right Thing Instead of Trying to do the Wrong Thing Better," Dwayne Beck, SDSU Dakota Lakes Research farm manager
  • Feb. 18: "Transitioning to Soil Health Systems Panel Discussion,” Peter Sexton, Associate Professor and SDSU Extension sustainable cropping systems specialist; David Karki, SDSU Extension agronomy field specialist; Sara Bauder, SDSU Extension Agronomy field specialist; and Anthony Bly, SDSU Extension
  • Feb. 19: "Cover Crops - General Herbicide Concerns Panel Discussion,” Gared Shaffer, SDSU Extension weeds field specialist (main presenter); Peter Sexton, SDSU Southeast Research Farm; David Karki, SDSU Extension; Sara Bauder, SDSU Extension; and Anthony Bly, SDSU Extension

“I recommend to anyone that is interested, please bring your questions to these sessions as we have many involved that can help provide answers and ideas for including sustainable approaches into current cropping systems,” Bly says.

Each week, SDSU Extension’s Crop Hour will cover a different area of agronomic production, from field crops and forages to water and weather. The webinar series began Jan. 5 and will conclude Mar. 26.

There is no fee to attend, but participants will need to register for the weekly webinars on the SDSU Extension Crops page. Confirmation Zoom links and reminders will be emailed to attendees.

Educational credits (CEU’s) will be available for certified crop advisers for each session.

For more information about the webinar series and to view the weekly topics and speakers, visit the crops page ( on the SDSU Extension site.

During the Soil Health and Cover Crop Week, SDSU Extension experts will examine best practices for transitioning to a soil health system as well as which cover crops can best meet production goals.