Giving Advice, Finding Solutions, and Building Connections for Healthier Soil, Healthier Crops, Healthier Livestock, and Healthier People.
The South Dakota Conservation Mentor Network was organized because people saw a need for the sharing of real on farm/ranch experiences with application of science-based conservation practices and systems. South Dakota has a unique climate with a variety of ecosystems that encompass more than 800 different soil types, fluctuating precipitation, and geography as well as land uses. It can be challenging to successfully manage that landscape for healthy and productive natural resources with a positive bottom line.
When land owners or operators have a Resource Concern* or want to enhance their operation, they can get free one-on-one, personalized advice from the Natural Resources Conservation Service on the best solutions to meet the unique conservation and business goals of those who grow our nation’s food and fiber.
Many factors can influence the long-term success of applying conservation in the landscape. With that in mind, no one knows better than the ag producers themselves of how to make things work. The South Dakota Mentor Network is a partnership effort of several entities to help connect ag producers who could help each other save time and money by sharing their experiences. Mentor-mentee roles are a relationship where people share knowledge, advice and resources, and provide a stable supportive relationship. Mentors will help guide producers through their specific topics.
This free service, the Mentor Network, is available to anyone by contacting your local Natural Resources Conservation Service, Conservation District, the South Dakota Grassland Coalition (SDGC) or the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition (SDSHC).
A newly updated version of the “Building Connections” Mentor Network publication is now available. Request your copy of the booklet today!
Please call Cindy Zenk, Coordinator for the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, (605) 280-4190 or email email@example.com.
5 Principles of soil health
1. Soil Cover
Keep plant residues on the soil surface. Look down, what percentage of your soil is protected by residue? Erosion needs to be minimized before you can start building soil health.
2. Limited Disturbance
Minimize tillage as much as possible. You will start building soil aggregates, pore spaces, soil biology, and organic matter.
3. Living Roots
Keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil. Cover crops can add carbon to the soil, providing a great food source for micro-organisms. Start small to find the best fit for your operation.
Try to mimic nature. Use cool and warm season grasses and broad leaf plants as much as possible, with three or more crops and cover crops in rotation. Grassland and cropland plant diversity increases soil and animal health.
5. Integrating Livestock
Fall/winter grazing of cover crops and crop residue increases livestock’s plane of nutrition at a time when pasture forage quality can be low, increases the soil biological activity on cropland, and improves nutrient cycling. Proper grassland management improves soil health.
Fort Pierre, SD
News & Events
From South Dakota FFA Foundation The South Dakota FFA Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of four $100 scholarships for students placing first in one of the four SD Regional Land Evaluation Competitions this fall. The 2021 scholarship recipients are: Rowdy...
Soil health practices can make farms and ranches more productive and more profitable, but that isn't the only reason to use conservation methods. Improved soil health means improved operational resilience and sustainability, and that means it's more likely the farm or...
As South Dakota continues to see warmer than average temperatures and limited rainfall, many producers across the state are planning to harvest failed grain crops as much-needed forage for livestock. While drought-stressed crops can still be used as forage, there are...