NRCS Wisconsin’s Rainfall Simulator

NRCS Wisconsin’s Rainfall Simulator


Today’s rainfall simulator really drove home the four principles of soil health, number one keeping that soil covered whether that’s with residue or cover crops, number two having a living cover going through the through the winter so we can keep that biology going as long as possible, also anytime the third principle is we can get more diversity into the mix more diversity a better opportunity that we have that we have to feed that soil and then the final one is absolutely very important is do not disturb, not disturbing that soil profile so reducing the tillage and even better yet eliminating the tillage out there and allowing that structure to develop in the soil increase to increase infiltration and also allow the soil to warm up as well but what we have represented here is a conventional tilled field has been continuously filled with corn silage for the last couple years really has very little structure to it and very little residue the the second one is more of a it’s a farm that’s transitioning to less tillage through they’re using some no till their also embracing the reduced till but they’re really spenting a lot of time and a lot of effort on getting that cover crop established as soon as possible the middle soil is a is a soil off of a dairy also it’s been no tilled for five or six years and it was corn silage this year and now has some covers that we’re establishing it just a week or so ago the last of the fourth one here is a transition into a no-till dairy system so Dan is standing over here so that that piece comes off of a Dan bricks it’s a 10-way mix of cover crops I purposely avoided the sunflowers and a lot of the other species just because it was going to interfere with with the rain but it is a pretty good representative sample of what’s in that field so there’s some oats some triticale hairy vetch some radish primarily in that one and the last one is off the rotational grazing farm it’s been seeded down since 2013 so this is its third year before that it was in a corn bean conventional till system so what we’re going to do is we’re going to we’re going to start off the rainfall just to tell you a little bit more about simulator the front row pockets is what we’re trying to show is the runoff that’s going to be coming off of these plots the buckets behind it are actually theres pans underneath these five representative samples so it’s going to show infiltration ok so each of these samples where we’re taken by putting a form into the ground pounding it in and then we cut around it all the way and then we lift that all intact ok a little bit more complicated with the conventional till, that’s a little bit different process to get that one in there but what this is showing is the primary aspects of soil health, ok, one of the biggest ones is we want to keep that ground covered okay and you you’re seeing that on the three that have really really good covers, the other important aspects of soil health and we get on it a couple times this morning is trying to keep something growing and living through the winter so we want to try to keep that biology going throughout the winter and also to be ready next spring to also take off it’s probably the biggest one that is shown here is the aspect of tillage not disturbing that soil. I I like Brian’s analogy a lot of bulldozing the house down and the structure, and that is so true, that far sample basically has no structure to it off it has the bucket in the back has close to zero infiltration going through it there’s no macropores at all, whereas when you get to these two samples here on the end and even the second one when I was cutting those out of the ground and shaving them on the bottom to fit in therewas a lot of killing going on check it there was a lot of earthworms that perished in the middle here in the aspect of preparing the process of getting this , those soils are just loaded with earthworms so you see these you see the infiltration rate on the greener covers also so with those all those macropores and all that structure is actually just as much more water going through the soil that it is running off so think of all that effects water quality on a larger scale well it’s the plum, whether it’s the fox river if we can get that water the meltwater the rain water to soak into the ground instead of running off this is showing you a really good representation of all that water can be helped eight tenths so that’s what gives me an idea of what we would like to think is a typical range maybe not this year since we get a 2 and 3 inches it seems like this year but you can just hear that the water it’s just basically running through all those pores the story with this one in the middle I want to talk about just the importance of trying to get the covers established as soon as possible after corn silage is taking off ok so this field right here was seeded about a day or the same day that the silage was taken off it was seeded with a piece of tillage equipment and an airbox much like the one that we looked at this morning while the same kind of box produces a really really nice carpet of cover out there that is a primarily winter rye, this cover right here is a mixture and with a couple more couple more weeks of heat we’re actually going to get more drilled out of that too so that fields going to be that field is going to end up looking really nice yet this fall too but the more growth that we can get going into the winter and half for next spring the better when we start talking about soluble nutrients and moving through the system’s what we have to remember is just in a straight no-till we’re going to get water moving through macropores but the whole story is we have to get the living roots will also be growing to be part of that so you have the no-till and you have the cover crop so you can be taking up some of those nutrients in our deep clay soils here you know we don’t have a lot of don’t have a lot of concerns i guess what I’d like to really concentrate on is the difference in color of water compared to the front where I don’t know what you want to call it chocolate milk compared to more about the water i guess in a way of saying it so that that is pretty darn good filtered water for going through another take home points from this and we saw it this morning between the two fields one that was no till in the onethe one that was not telling the one that was more of a conventional till I mean just putting your hand in here can you imagine driving across this this is gonna run off compared to the structure that you have on a field that’s been in cover crops ok the other thing that I think this shows really well it sometimes folks think little erosion okay well that has to be this gully for this little rill that comes off the field that’s carrying all of our sentiment there’s no rill here I mean this is the true sense of just sheet and rill erosion about what what’s coming off that field it just it hammers home the point in my opinion of the need for covers and structure

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