The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is once again encouraging Iowa farmers to “keep the stubble” on their harvested crop fields and improve soil health during No-Till November.
First launched in 2017, the NRCS project is mirrored after the national cancer awareness No-Shave November campaign that encourages people not to shave during the entire month. The NRCS campaign encourages farmers to keep tillage equipment in their machine sheds this fall and keep the crop stubble on their fields. In the past two years, the campaign has reached more than 1 million people.
“No-till farming is a cornerstone soil health conservation practice, which also promotes water quality while saving farmers time and money,” said Iowa NRCS State Conservationist Kurt Simon. “One of the first soil health principles is ‘do not disturb’. This campaign is a fun way to remind farmers about the important relationship between tillage and soil health.”
Improving soil health increases soil biological activity, which provides erosion control, nutrient benefits, and can simulate tillage. “No till is a different management tool because timeliness is very important for planting and weed control. I really like it, though. I like knowing that there is biological activity below the ground. You dig down six inches and the earthworms are there. The worms are my tillage tool,” said No-Till Farmer Gene DeBruin, Mahaska County, Iowa.
The campaign grew from an idea shared by NRCS Area Soil Scientist Neil Sass. “The impact has been much wider-reaching than I’d expected. I’ve seen #StubbleSelfie cutouts in Co-ops and ag services offices, but also in labs, schools and lots of fun media,” he said. “I think that this promotion has been a fun way to draw awareness to Soil Health, just like the OG No Shave November promotion has done for cancer awareness.”
For more information about soil health and the No-Till November campaign, please go to www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.