Shelby field day features soil health

Farmers, land owners, community members engage in hands-on learning

The soil health field day covered a variety of topics, including a discussion on practical methods to improving soil health and what a soil health test really tells you. (USDA via Flickr)

LINCOLN — On September 7, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in conjunction with the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA), hosted a field day in Shelby, Nebraska, highlighting the Soil Health Partnership. Farmers, land owners and community members had an opportunity to engage in hands-on learning and group discussions around the topic of soil health.

The field day took place at two locations. During the morning, attendees gathered at Central Valley Ag in Shelby for group discussions. Here, staff with the Soil Health Partnership showcased how changing nutrient management and tillage strategies, along with cover crop adoption, can create lasting environmental and economic benefits. The afternoon was spent on Greg Whitmore’s farm where attendees had the opportunity to take part in hands-on field demonstrations, including a soil pit for participants to observe cover crop root growth and soil properties. Whitmore, a farmer from Shelby Nebraska and vice chair of Nebraska Corn’s research and stewardship committee, has been involved in the partnership for three years.

“The Soil Health Partnership has been a great program to help bring awareness to the importance and benefits of soil health,” said Whitmore. “As a farmer, I have a strong interest in not only achieving good yields, but also in sustaining the productivity of my land for future generations. This program has taught me that improving the health of my soil can help with both of these objectives.”

The soil health field day covered a variety of topics, including a discussion on practical methods to improving soil health and what a soil health test really tells you. Cover crops were also discussed—digging into why they are important, the variety of cover crops that can be used and how cover crops improve the health of the soil. As more farmers seek innovative practices to change the way they care for their land, the Soil Health Partnership aims to bring farmers and experts together to share information and resources on these topics on a local level. 

“Implementing practices to improve soil health can have numerous benefits including preventing nutrient loss and erosion, and improving soil structure,” said Boone McAfee, director of research at NCB. “Farmers are our best ambassadors for sharing these soil health practices and encouraging adoption among their peers.”

Nebraska Corn is encouraging farmers to consider becoming involved in the Soil Health Partnership. If you are interested in learning how to use innovative soil management strategies and would like to become one of the Soil Health Partnership’s demonstration farms, contact the Nebraska Corn Board office.

About the Soil Health Partnership

The Soil Health Partnership brings together diverse partner organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies, universities and environmental groups to work toward the common goal of improving soil health. Over a period of at least 10 years, the SHP will identify, test and measure farm management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers. We believe the results of this farmer-led project will provide a platform for sharing peer-to-peer information, and lend resources to benefit agricultural sustainability and profitability. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, we provide the spark for greater understanding and implementation of agricultural best practices to protect resources for future generations. For more, visit

The Nebraska Corn Board’s market development, research, promotion and education programs are funded and managed by Nebraska corn farmers. Producers invest at a rate of 1/2 of a cent per bushel of corn sold.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) is a grassroots commodity organization that works to enhance the profitability of corn producers. NeCGA has more than 2,400 dues paying members in Nebraska. NeCGA is affiliated with the National Corn Growers Association, which has more than 36,000 dues paying members nationwide. 

— Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association

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