DakotaFest: Rainfall simulations illustrate best tillage and range management techniques | TSLN.com

DakotaFest: Rainfall simulations illustrate best tillage and range management techniques

A lot can be learned about soil health by watching water infiltration, explains Pete Bauman, SDSU Extension Range Field Specialist.

"Water infiltration varies depending on organic matter, erosion, compaction, soil fertility, carbon sequestration etcetera – all these important factors determine whether or not a field or pasture is healthy or in need of repair," Bauman explained.

South Dakotans can see for themselves during the daily Rainfall Simulator presentations held at 2015 Dakotafest Aug. 18-20, near Mitchell, South Dakota, in the SDSU Extension Pavilion at 9:30 a.m.

The SDSU Extension Pavilion is in a new location in booth 600, located on the corner of 6th Street and the West Entrance (for Dakotafest regulars, this is the road which leads past the ribeye sandwiches on the way to the northwest corner.)

The simulation is co-hosted by SDSU Extension and South Dakota Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The rainfall simulator was developed by NRCS and is a live demonstration that 'simulates' real rainfall events to test water infiltration in several different soil management situations including: conventional tilled cropland, no-till cropland, no-till cropland with cover crops, poorly managed rangeland and healthy rangeland. "NRCS staffers Jeff Hemenway and Stan Boltz have been doing this presentation for a long time, and SDSU Extension is fortunate to partner with NRCS for this forum," Bauman said. "It's our job to provide South Dakota farmers and ranchers with research-based information that they can apply to improve their operations – this simulator is a great tool to provide a first-hand look at the best soil management techniques for cropland as well as grazing lands."

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He added that many Dakotafest attendees have operations with both crops and livestock – basically most wear two hats. "They wear their cowboy hat taking care of livestock and put on the baseball cap when they farm," Bauman said. "When we discuss soil management, people frequently assume it only impacts cropland, but the fact is, there is a lot that can be done to improve rangeland productivity – this presentation will address both."

During the demonstrations, time will be set aside for attendees to ask Bauman as well as the NRCS representatives, Jeff Hemenway and Stan Boltz, questions. Bauman will also be available to discuss pasture-related topics, such as estimating forage production, managing plant communities, dung beetle management, prescribed fire and other issues.

To learn more, visit the iGrow events page.

–SDSU Extension