Thursday, January 27, 2022

Have you watched an NRCS “water infiltration” demonstration lately?


CONCEPTIONS   Dairy Route newsletter               May-June 2021

Clay Howe                        Sue Palen                 Greg Palen                      Rich Harmon
Route Sales/Service               Store/products             Field Service                           Local AI service  
Agronomy/Seed                     Advance orders            “aAa” Breeding Guide         
John Quaderer
(519)933-8431                        (989)277-0480              (989)277-6031                       Store assistant

Mich Livestock Service, Inc.     “For the Best in Bulls”   and    “Top Forage Seeds”
110 N Main St   (PO Box 661)   Ovid, MI  48866   **   phone  (989) 834- 2661
fax: (989) 834-2914      email:      website:

Byron Seeds’ annual “Cover Crop Field Day” was April 22 in Rockville, Indiana.   As part of the program they had their county NRCS staff do a “water infiltration” test with blocks of soil and sod taken from Samuel Fisher’s working farm.
These blocks included:
A tray of fully tilled soil (as you would find in conventional row crop farming)
A tray of disked sod (as you would find in rotating from hay to row crop)
A tray of over-wintered cover crops
A tray of perennial grass-based pasture

After spraying with water to simulate 1 ½ inches of rainfall, and catching water in jars that either “ran off” the top of the soil or “infiltrated” through the layer of soil, the trays were dumped upside down to compare the effects.

Surprisingly, the fully-tilled soil had most of its “rainfall” run off: underneath, the soil remained totally dry (none of the rain infiltrated into the soil, where you will be planting your seed).
The disked sod passed roughly half the rain away as runoff, half infiltrating the seed layer.     The water clearly followed the path of roots in the soil mass.

The remaining two samples were totally watered, having absorbed all the “rain”.   Lots of root mass were clearly visible, and were acting like sponge to absorb water and storing it in the growth zone of the topsoil.

In the opinion of the NRCS people, cover crops are the superior way to build soil, and when your farm includes animals, their “residues” feed the soil biology best.

No comments:

Post a Comment