By Randall Reeder, Extension Agricultural Engineer (retired)
The David Brandt Farm in Fairfield County hosted a field day on Friday covering the details of the broad topic of soil health. As usual, Brandt lined up an outstanding program, including Ray Archuleta and Rick Clark.
The program started with Archuleta discussing “How to Start Regenerative Ag and Improve Soil Health.” This included demonstrations of the Slake Test and two other tests that show how good soils, without tillage, have substantial macropores and resist breaking up.
Archuleta is retired from NRCS as a soil health specialist and world-renowned soil scientist. He has many presentations on YouTube. He starts with the basics, “Plants need two things: sun and water. The water has to infiltrate. It should infiltrate where it lands to be of value and not run off. Cover crops are essential to capture sunlight more than just the 4 months the cash crop is growing. They help feed the microbes, increase infiltration, and resist drought effects.”
Attendees then heard from a panel on regenerative ag, with Clark and Brandt. Clark has 7,000 acres for crops and livestock in Indiana which he is switching to organic production, all with no-till and cover crops. Clark shared his economic information, including a drastic cost reduction for inputs.
Kirk Hines, ODA SWCD Chief, also gave an update on the H2Ohio Program. After lunch, Rafiq Islam, OSU Soil Scientist, and Brandt discussed analysis of nutrient density of different crops from the Brandt farm.
The program after lunch included:
• George Derringer, retired NRCS soil scientist, comparing 3-foot soil cores from the Brandt farm fields with the soil profiles of 6 preserved soil cores from 15 years ago. Have regenerative agriculture practices changed those soils? Could these same changes occur on your farm?
• Vinayak Shedekar, OSU Ag. Engineer, with an update of water quality research being conducted on the Brandt Farm.
• Brian Stephenson, Regional Manager for North Star Seed, will discuss results from the plots for hybrid rye and triticale on the Brandt Farm.
• and NRCS Chief Terry Cosby.