Contour Farming

The educational materials listed on this page are about Conservation Tillage.

Conservation tillage reduces soil disturbance by leaving more than thirty percent of the soil surface covered with the residue of a previous crop. This crop production system improves soil conservation, reduces soil erosion and limits water runoff. Producers can choose from several different conservation tillage systems no-till, strip-till, ridge-till or zone-till—based on their individual cropping system and on the amount of residue they want to leave on the soil surface. There is also a variety of tillage equipment available for farmers and ranchers, depending on which tillage system they use. No-till farming leaves all of the previous crop’s residue on the field. Farmers who use a strip-till system only disturb the section of soil that is necessary for seeding. Strip tillage is similar to zone tillage, but the latter cuts deeper into the soil to increase water infiltration. In ridge-till systems, farmers build raised seed beds to create a warmer seedbed with better drainage. Cover crops can be added to any conservation tillage system to provide additional residue and soil cover between cash crops. 

Showing 1-5 of 5 results

Scaling Up

Perkins’ Good Earth Farm is a small family farm that operates on 19 acres. They currently grow only one-quarter acre of organic garlic but hope to increase their productivity in this area by 50 percent. Two major challenges in achieving this goal are the cost of additional labor and worker comfort during planting and harvesting. […]

Producers and Researchers Collaborate to Improve Soil Health in North Dakota

Soil—and whole farms—have been renewed through soil-improving practices like cover crops and no till. In the semiarid plains of western North Dakota, a team of producers and researchers are working to boost soil health for improved yield stability, farm income, and natural resource health of farms. The Southwest North Dakota Soil Health Project is a […]

Enhancing Crop Yield Through Wild Pollinators

In this journal article, SARE-supported research provides a general framework and examples of approaches for enhancing pollinator richness and abundance, quantity and quality of pollen on stigmas, crop yield, and farmers’ profit, including some benefits detected only through long-term monitoring. The authors argue for integrating the promotion of wild-insect species richness with single-species management to benefit farmers and society.

Women Caring for the Land: Improving Conservation Outreach to Female Non-Operator Farmland Owners Curriculum Manual

With the help of an NCR-SARE Research and Education Grant and funding from other sources, WFAN developed an award winning curriculum called Women Caring for the LandSM (WCL), which is designed to serve female non-operator landowners who are interested in learning more about conservation and other land management topics. The materials are also appropriate to teach youth about sustainable agriculture through hands-on conservation activity lesson plans.

Dakota Farmer's Success Catches On

Dan Forgey has always had an abiding respect for the land that he has farmed for more than 40 years, which is why, as manager of the 8,500-acre Cronin Farms in Gettysburg, S.D., he strives to build soil health—and yields—sustainably. First, he shifted the farm to 100 percent no-till in 1993, around the time that […]