The message at the 7th Annual Cavalier County Soil Health Day was creating partnerships to improve soil health. The partnership that was being encouraged was between the two types of producers: the grower of crops and the grower of livestock.
By Melissa Anderson
Dr. Adnan Akyuz kicked off the soil health day by discussing the weather patterns that have been changing over the past several decades. Dr. Akyuz explained that while North Dakota is ranked as one of the coldest in the continental United States, the state is seeing a rise in temperature of about .5 degrees annually.
“We are living in the epicenter of climate change,” Akyuz said.
He calculated that it would take eight decades for the state’s average temperature for January through March to reach the same temperature as the 10th coldest state, South Dakota.
For winter 2018-2019, Akyuz is predicting that our area will experience a weak El Nino winter. Usually during this type of winter, temperatures will be above average with below average precipitation.
“There is a 39 percent chance of a warmer than normal winter this year,” Akyuz stated.
North Dakota State University Extension Agent Anitha Chirumamilla gave a update for clubroot in canola that could be possibly devastating to the crop being grown in the area. The Langdon Research Extension Center Pathologist specialist, Dr. Venkat Chapara, has been monitoring the pathogen for the past several years and created a survey group in 2016 to find and identify clubroot in canola fields. From the time of its creation to now, the pathogen has spread and adapted to the higher pH of soils found in Cavalier County.
“One in every three fields surveyed in Cavalier County in 2018 had clubroot spores,” Chirumamilla stated. Chirumamilla addressed those in attendance that knowing the biology of the pathogen is the first step in preventing the spread as there are limited options for other forms of control.
Currently, Dr. Chapara has a three part study being conducted to hopefully find solutions for the prevention and treatment of clubroot in canola. The objectives were to test chemical efficacy, host susceptibility, and response of commercial cultivators. Over the past two years of the study, Chapara found that beet lime was the best at preventing galling in the roots of canola followed by wood ash and pellet lime. It was pointed out during the presentation that while beet lime increases the pH of the soil, many areas in Cavalier County already have a high pH so adding these treatments could push the pH even higher.
As far as the host susceptibility and commercial cultivators, there was no sign of hope. Chirumamilla explained that there are resistant varieties, but those can only be grown on a three- to five-year rotation or the producer would risk the pathogen compromising that resistance.
Three of the presentations at the soil health day worked together to explore how implementing the use of livestock could help producers nurture the soil in their fields.
Brenyn Hardy and Grace Bredeson informed those in attendance how the use of cover crops and livestock could improve the soil by reducing erosion, building organic matter, utilize the moisture and conserve the moisture as well.
“Top is a non-renewable resource,” Hardy said. Hardy went on to explain that utilizing cover crops in problem spots that have high salinity, sodicity, moisture, etc. would reduce costs associated with treating these areas as well as eliminating loss.
“You can manage cover crops by using livestock through grazing or haying the grass mix,” Hardy shared.
North Dakota Livestock Alliance(NDLA) Executive Director Amber Boeshans spoke on how the newly created NDLA is working to help current livestock producers as well as assisting with the development of new producers and facilities. “We are reaching out to local leaders and getting good relationships started between animal ag and local commissions,” Boeshans said.
Boeshans stated that just like production agriculture, animal agriculture is facing similar hurdles of overcoming misinformation being spread in this “ era of activism”. NDLA encourages those interested in animal ag to approach them.
“We are a central help that direct those interested in animal ag in the right direction. We can help find the right programs or organizations that are best suited,” Boeshans shared.
Soil Specialist Naeem Kalwar of the Langdon Research Extension Center and Craig Brumbaugh provided the last presentations outside exhibiting how perennial grasses and cover crops were being utilized in experiments and studies on plots at the research station.
Kalwar and Brumbaugh finished the soil health day with demonstrations showing how well cover crops and grasses protect the soil from water and wind erosion as well as slake tests.
For more information on any of the presentations summarized here, please contact Cavalier County Extension Agent Anitha Chirumamilla at Cavalier County NDSU Extension.