It’s all connected: The interaction between soil health and beneficial insects

This past spring, NACD asked the Soil Health Champions Network to identify conservation areas of interest. Many of you said you'd like to learn more about the interaction between soil health and beneficial insects. Below, you'll find a several resources we've gathered on this topic, as well as the date and times NACD will holding webinars on beneficial insects.

Some helpful resources:

Farming with Native Beneficial Insects - This guide, published by the Xerces Society, is designed to help producers manage on-farm insects that prey on pests.

Beneficial Insect Guide - This USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) guide helps producers identify beneficial insects and support their populations with flowering plots.

Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects - Did you know that flowering cover crops can improve soil health and provide valuable forage for wild bees and beneficial insects? This SARE bulletin (pictured at right) will help you choose and use cover crops that encourage beneficial insects to take up residence on your farm.

Upcoming webinars:

November 15, 2:00pm Eastern
Presenter: Xerces Society
Topic: How soil health practices can also benefit the insect/invertebrates that provide pest management services.

January 16, 2:00pm Eastern
Presenter: Xerces Society
Topic: The biology and habitat needs of soil invertebrates important to improving and maintaining soil health.

You can find archived NACD webinars on the Soil Health Champions Network webpage. Additional webinars on other soil health-related topics are in the works, so stay tuned for more information!

NACD publishes research on economic benefits of soil health

In August, NACD released four case studies, detailing the results of a three-year research project on the economic benefits of soil health practices. Two NACD Soil Health Champions, Michael Willis from Missouri and Dan Diaz from Illinois, were involved in this research. Among other helpful findings, the case studies found that soybean and corn farmers in the Midwest can use no-till and/or cover crops to: 1) cut fertilizer costs up to $50 per acre; 2) cut erosion repair costs by up to $16 per acre; and 3) increase yields by up to $76 per acre.

On September 14, we hosted a webinar on this research and published it on our website. The webinar’s speakers – Marcy Lowe, CEO and founder of Datu Research and Soil Health Champion Michael Willis – provided insights into the research itself and practical tips for using cover crops.

We want to be able to create more case studies like these in other regions and on different types of operations, but to do that, we need more data. By taking this two-minute survey, you'll be helping us expand soil health research AND be entered into a drawing for a ceramic Soil Health Champions coffee mug!

CTIC releases 2016–2017 Cover Crop Report

In September, the latest Cover Crop Survey Report was released by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA).

The fifth annual nationwide cover crop survey draws on the insights of 2,102 U.S. farmers—88% of whom reported using cover crops. At the beginning of the report, the abstract identifies some really interesting facts about this research. In fact, this is the first year that they have gathered enough data to analyze yield differences in wheat (an increase of 1.9 bushels per acre, or 2.8%).

Farmers broadcast soil health PSAs across the Southern Plains

The USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub, in partnership with Redlands Community College and NRCS, has developed a series of radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for farmers on the benefits of using soil health practices. This outreach effort also includes The Southern Plains Podcast; recent episodes share information on USDA’s response to Hurricane Harvey and recent fires, and how individuals can apply for assistance.

Click here for short bios on each of the participants and a link to their PSAs. And keep an eye out for video PSAs on soil health coming soon!

2018 NACD Annual Meeting: Where Conservation Takes Center Stage!

All Soil Health Champions are invited to join us for NACD’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, January 28 – 31 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. The Network will have reserved booth space again in the Conservation Expo Hall where members can gather, chat, and share their stories with attendees and fellow champions.

If you register online to attend the meeting, you’ll receive a $15 discount! Plus, it’s easy. Just click here to go to NACD’s website to register, book your hotel room, and preview the meeting’s agenda.

National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health just around the corner!

The Soil and Water Conservation Society is hosting the National Conference on Cover Crops in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 7 – 8. Headliners include our very own NACD Soil Health Champions, Keith Berns, a nationally known Nebraska farmer on the topic of carbonomics, and Jimmy Emmons, a rancher and grain farmer in the Southern Plains who grazes cover crops. This conference will have over 40 different presenters – many of them farmers with years of cover cropping experience – and six breakout session tracks all focused on elements of cover cropping.

If you are attending…

  1. Feel free to make NACD’s booth your “conference home base” or to stop by whenever you have time. We would love for you to also consider sharing your story from our booth with other attendees!

  2. Join your fellow champions for an informal dinner on December 6, the night before the program starts. If you are interested in meeting up for dinner, please contact Beth Mason at or 317-946-4463.

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