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Farmers should consider conservation strategies

Editor's note: The following article was submitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Low crop prices are expected for 2016, and many are looking at negative returns per acre. However, there are things you can do to improve your bottom line including 1) reducing tillage and equipment passes, 2) diversifying crop rotations, 3) implementing sound nutrient management, 4) building soil health and 5) taking poorly performing and land close to water and wetlands out of production.

Think about ways you may be able to reduce tillage and equipment passes in the spring. Tillage's primary purpose is to prepare a firm level seedbed; take this into account when determining any necessary tillage.

If you currently run a one or two crop rotation, consider adding another crop to the rotation. Consider crops with lower input costs, less risk, are more suited to difficult soil conditions, or add another crop type to the rotation.

Plan for next year's nutrient budget accordingly and make sure to implement practices such as split applications, nitrogen credits for manure and legumes, utilizing crops with less nutrient needs, and following University recommendations.

Consider investing in the land for the future. One of the best ways is to consider your current management and how it impacts soil health. Each 1 percent organic matter in the soil holds one inch of water, 1,000 lbs. of nitrogen, and reduces leaching, improves yields, and much more.

Consider areas of the field that have lower than average yields or frequently drown or drought out. Take these areas out of production and increase your profit per acre. Programs such as CRP also allow you to plant a permanent cover and receive an annual rental payment.

For more information on ways to conserve your land and improve your profitability, contact the Natural Resources Conservation Services office at (320) 732-6618, ext. 3.

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