The next generation of farmers, crop advisers, soil scientists and ag bankers scraped at subsoil, evaluating the soil structure and uncovering roots. Later, they watched tilled soil dissolve, while that from beneath cover crops and no-tilled remained intact when saturated with water.
The students’ hands-on, on-farm learning experience came courtesy of Clinton County Farm Bureau’s nutrient stewardship grant from Illinois Farm Bureau.
“You learn more than by just seeing it in pictures,” said Kaskaskia College (KC) sophomore Kaitlyn Smith, who plans to major in agriculture business. “It’s definitely a learning experience.”
“It allows the next generation to get ideas, so we can carry on,” added Brendon Schettler, a KC freshman.
During the recent field day near Carlyle on the Dean Carrillon farm, college students learned along with local farmers and freshmen ag students from Christ Our Rock Lutheran High School, Centralia. Clinton County Ag Literacy Coordinator Susan Kleiboeker scribbled information to inject into future elementary classroom lessons.
“I am planning on sharing as much of this as I can,” said Kleiboeker, whose husband farms. “All of this was enlightening to me -- wow.”
Ray Archuleta, a soil scientist consultant and retired Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation agronomist, tapped student power for his rain simulation demonstrations. “Healthy soil does not fall apart when it is in water,” Archuleta said, pointing as tilled, bare soil disintegrated in a water-filled container.
A no-till, cover crop advocate, Archuleta emphasized the importance of soil bacteria and microbes. “All the critters create biotic glue,” he explained. “When you till, you wake up the bacteria, and they start eating the glue, and it (soil) starts falling apart.”
Referring to earthworms as nature’s tillage, the soil scientist added, “The more you mimic nature, the more it gives back to you.”
During a break, Archuleta mused about the importance of helping future generations of farmers and agriculture professionals learn about efficient nutrient and soil stewardship. “When we teach young people how to do this, they actually can come back into the operation and cut down on costly inputs,” he concluded.
Editor’s note: This article represents ongoing stories related to Illinois Farm Bureau’s Nutrient Stewardship Grant program.
Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.