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2021 South Dakota Cropping Systems Inventory

Some South Dakota producers have been using practices like no-till farming, cover crops, and sound grazing practices for years. They’ve discovered these practices significantly change their soils for the better, and that healthy soils are the key to a much more resilient operation, whether on cropland or grazing land.

Many have been willing to share their evolutionary, pioneering pathways to a new, regenerative approach to farming and ranching. We continue to appreciate their willingness to serve as mentors and to show and tell their success stories to anyone wanting to listen and learn.

As more and more producers use these practices, progress is being monitored in a number of ways. In the pages that follow, we bring together recent extreme weather data from the National Weather Service, trends to less tillage and no tillage from our USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Cropping Systems Inventory (CSI), increasing use
of cover crops from the USDA Farm Service Agency data and NRCS program reports, and economic information on soil health systems from 10 South Dakota producers.

Our intent is to focus on soil health, reporting on the most recent status of these soil building practices, in perspective with trends over time. Included are comments from producers who tell why they keep their soil covered as much as possible, use no-till instead of disturbing their soil, use crop rotations and grazing practices that promote plant diversity, keep live roots growing in the soil as much as possible, and integrate livestock in their operation where possible.

That focus on soil health has significant potential to bring not only resilience to farming and ranching operations, but also to be the basis for healthier, longer lasting land and water resources across this great state.

Robert Lawson
Acting State Conservationist

2021 Focus on Soil Health (PDF; 1,983 KB)

To request a courtesy hard copy of the 2021 Focus on Soil Health publication by mail, contact Tami Burmeister at (605) 352-1224 or

News Release

2019 Cropping Systems Inventory