Cutting through conservation challenges

A sustainable agricultural researcher says patience is the most helpful practice when committing to new conservation efforts.

Michigan State University’s Brook Wilke has been researching soil health for nearly 20 years.

“I’ve had numerous failures from not getting seeds planted right or having a new pest outbreak because of a cover crop,” he shares.  “The soil needs time to respond as well. You have to have that patience through some of these new challenges and for the patience to get your soil to the point where it’s responding to what you’re giving back to it.”

Wilke tells Brownfield the return on investment for farmers takes time.

“We know that integrating conservation practices like cover crops, like no-till maybe Prairie strips or conservation areas come with challenges,” he says.   “Rarely do you have an immediate success, usually there’s a learning curve and a transition period.”

He says farmers sharing with other farmers is one of the best ways to gain advice on conservation strategies and how to manage through challenges.

Brownfield interviewed Wilke during this week’s Great Lakes Crop Summit where he and other farmers shared insights about using conservation practices for more than a decade.

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