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Agronomic Objective

The Objective of the NRCS Agronomic Program in South Dakota

The objective of the NRCS Agronomic Program in South Dakota is to help land users apply conservation measures that will maintain the sustainability of the cropland resource as well as reduce or eliminate offsite environmental impacts to other resources such as South Dakota's surface and ground water resources.

Economic and Environmental Benefits

Conservation practices have economic and environmental benefits:

  • Improved water regimes;
  • Reduced overland water flow;
  • Reduced soil loss;
  • Reduced sedimentation;
  • Cleaner water;
  • Increased duration of stream flow;
  • Improved quality of the soil resource;
  • Enhanced fishery;
  • Improved wildlife habitat;
  • Increased vigor and productivity of grain and forage crops;
  • Improvement in the health and resilience of the soil resource;
  • Overall improvement in the quality of life for the people of South Dakota and the Great Plains Region.

May factors, including ecological, physical, economic, and political factors influence the cropland manager's decisions that in turn affect resource condition and treatment alternatives.

In the last 20 years, a combination of factors such as farm programs, commodity prices, fluctuations in prices between various crops, and a decrease in the number of operators have increasingly resulted in a reduction in the health and productivity of South Dakota's cropland resource.  Farm profitability has changed agriculture in South Dakota.  Many agricultural producers today have less diversity in their farming operations resulting in rotations that no longer contain legumes, cover crops, or manure applications.  This economic shift has also lead to removal of residue from fields by grazing, haying, and silage.  In addition, this trend has lead to a greater reliance on tillage and chemical methods to control pests and an increase in the number of acres of high cash value, low residue crops.

The trend toward non-diverse crop rotations over a number of years results in cropland fields that have a reduced productivity potential due to one or more soil degrading processes.  Compaction, salinization, loss of biological activity, excessive oxidation of organic matter, and soil erosion are a few of the soil degrading processes that impact South Dakota's cropland resource.

NRCS has and will continue to work cooperatively with our partnership organizations to address the research and education needs in soil moisture management, soil quality, rotational diversity, and residue management.