Soil Management and Technology

Show Me the Data!

Empowering Conservation Champions with Innovative, Real-Time Soil Metrics

Sand County Foundation is empowering farmers with real-time data about their conservation practices.

This project provides 30 farmer collaborators from Minnesota and Wisconsin with on-farm data of how their management influences soil temperature, nutrient runoff potential, and other factors.

This work was one of 12 projects funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's “Farm to Farmer” grant funding in 2021.

View 2021 Highlights

View Program Summary

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“Farmers are seeking real-time data to guide in-season decision making,” said Dr. Heidi Peterson, Sand County Foundation’s Vice President of Agricultural Conservation and Research (shown far right).

Sand County Foundation teamed up with Farmers Edge and the University of Minnesota to develop this demonstration.

Farmers using a soil health management system are paired with a neighbor with similar soils but a more conventional management approach. The aim is to quantify how infiltration, water holding capacity, soil trafficability, leaching potential, aggregate stability, and other soil properties are influenced by management.

Farmers Edge installed soil sensor technology in each field that provide each farmer access from their cell phone to their own real-time soil moisture and temperature data.

Other key partners in the project include: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Minnesota Soil Health Coalition, Benton Soil & Water Conservation District, Mower Soil and Water Conservation District, Soil Solutions Consulting LLC, Watershed Protection Committee of Racine County, and Dodge County Farmers, Healthy Soil Healthy Water.

20211005 Parker Madeline Skrochs

"Within 2-4 hours following a heavy rainfall event, my sensor were showing that moisture had already reached the bottom of the soil probes. I believe this rapid infiltration is 100% because of my no-till system!" -- Chris Schmidt, Minnesota farmer.

In the News:

Read the EPA Awards 'Farmer to Farmer' Grant to Sand County Foundation press release.

For more information:

Contact Heidi Peterson, PhD.

612.504.7186

hpeterson@sandcountyfoundation.org

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The EPA’s “Farmer to Farmer” grants support the leadership of farmers in improving water quality, habitat, resilience, and peer-to-peer information exchange to benefit community and ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico Watershed. Farmers manage millions of acres of privately held working lands within the Gulf of Mexico Watershed. Conservation management can minimize pollution, specifically the excess nitrogen and phosphorus that can enter waterbodies through runoff or soil erosion.

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement 02D01421 to Sand County Foundation. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.

Partners & Sponsors

Soil Solutions Consulting LLC
Environmental Protection Agency
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