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Investigating whether soil health systems improve field workability and quality of life

Investigating whether soil health systems improve field workability and quality of life

By Katie Drewitz, University of Minnesota Extension 

PRESTON and CALEDONIA, Minn. (03/30/2022) — Timing is everything for farmers working in Minnesota’s short growing season. Getting into the field during a window of good weather to plant, spray, or harvest can make the difference between profitability and loss. It can also mean the difference between a frantic, sleepless night and a relaxing evening with the family, and those stressful seasons can add up to long-term differences in quality of life.

We often hear anecdotes about farmers who no-till and plant cover crops getting into the field faster than neighbors waiting for a compacted area to dry out. In a new research project, we’re trying to address that question with field studies exploring how row crop management systems change soil response to rain, and farmer access to fields after rain. We’ll be monitoring pairs of farms using contrasting management for soil structure and moisture for 2 growing seasons. We are also looking at how field workability impacts farmers’ quality of life and stress levels.

While we are busy gathering field data from our cooperator farms and the Southern Research and Outreach Center, we are also looking to gather information from Minnesota farmers. Any crop farmer in Minnesota is invited to participate in our farmer survey. This survey will collect information including farm characteristics, how farming practices impact your workable field days, and the impact this has on farmer stress and overall quality of life. The survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete and can be completed online at https://z.umn.edu/FieldworkSurvey. Prior to beginning the survey, all respondents will be asked to sign a document, consenting to participation in the research study.

Participation in the survey is completely voluntary and individual data gathered will be kept private. In any sort of report we might publish, we will not include any information that will make it possible to identify an individual subject. Research records will be stored securely and only researchers will have access to the records.

The research team for this project includes Anna Cates (catesa@umn.edu), Jeffrey Vetsch (jvetsch@umn.edu), Gregg Johnson (johns510@umn.edu), Bill Lazarus (wlazarus@umn.edu), and Emily Krekelberg (krek0033@umn.edu). Questions about the survey can be directed to Anna Cates (catesa@umn.edu; 612-625-3135) or Emily Krekelberg (krek0033@umn.edu; 612-756-3977).

Source: Katie Drewitz, Extension Educator – Agriculture 

Production, Horticulture & Natural Resources 

University of Minnesota Extension 

Fillmore and Houston Counties

Release Date: March 30, 2022

Contact: Katie Drewitz

​Fillmore Co.: 507-765-3896

Houston Co.: 507-725-5807


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