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Author: Robert Hathorne

This Farmer’s Convinced: “Ugly” Fields Have Higher Yields

Posted by Robert Hathorne, Oklahoma Public Affairs Specialist on June 17, 2016 at 10:17 AM
Scotty Herriman places a trusting hand on the no-till drill he viewed with such skepticism for decades. Today, he often leads the state in dryland no-till corn yields.

Scotty Herriman places a trusting hand on the no-till drill he viewed with such skepticism for decades. Today, he often leads the state in dryland no-till corn yields.

Back in 2009, you couldn’t pay Scotty Herriman to try no-till. “Our bottomland is tight, heavy clay,” he insisted. “It won’t work here.”

Scotty has been growing corn, soybeans, wheat and milo on 2,000 acres in Nowata County, Oklahoma for more than 50 years. So, it’s generally wise to take his word when it comes to farming. But Scotty is the first to acknowledge he misjudged no-till. Six years after switching to no-till, he says, “it will work here, and I’ve proved it.”

As is the unfortunate truth for many producers, it took a series of disasters to get Scotty to consider changing from the conventional farming practices he had used for decades. He had seen others try no-till as early as the 1970s, but even during the severe drought of 1980-1981, Scotty doubted the cost-effective and water-saving system. He was convinced a chisel was necessary to break up his soil, and the cost of a no-till drill was a gamble that outweighed the potential benefit. Read more >>

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Tags: Oklahoma, soil health

categories Soil Health, Discover Conservation, Farmer & Rancher Stories


World’s Muddiest Academic Contest Introduces Students to Soil and Range Health

Posted by Robert Hathorne, Oklahoma Public Affairs Specialist on June 13, 2016 at 07:53 AM
Land judging contestants use pocket knives to determine topsoil depth in a practice pit at the Lake Arcadia Conservation Education Area in Edmond, Oklahoma. The contest has been held every year for 65 years despite blistering heat, rain, ice and tornadoes.

Land judging contestants use pocket knives to determine topsoil depth in a practice pit at the Lake Arcadia Conservation Education Area in Edmond, Oklahoma. The contest has been held every year for 65 years despite blistering heat, rain, ice and tornadoes.

With mud-caked boots, furrowed brows and dusty clipboards, more than 500 high school students carefully sidestep each other through a maze of tiny plastic flags and trenches cut into the bright red soil of the Oklahoma prairie. The peculiar scene has been a May tradition in the outskirts of Oklahoma City for 65 years.

The National Land and Range Judging Contest is the culmination of local and state contests where FFA and 4-H teams use their knowledge of soil science and rangeland ecology to evaluate the land for agricultural and residential uses. At the national level, the best teams from more than 30 states compete for the championship trophy. Along with several state agencies and organizations, including the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and conservation districts, technical staff from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have helped run and officiate the contest from the beginning. Read more >>

Tags: Oklahoma

categories Discover Conservation