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When do farmers go back to growing food?
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NE Ridger
Posted 3/18/2023 08:01 (#10145884 - in reply to #10143551)
Subject: Fence rows are special

EC Nebraska
Niese - 3/16/2023 19:31

We cover crop, no till, use manure. Work the ground every 5 years. Doesn’t matter take out the fence row beside the best farm and it always outyields. Something is missing from the soil wish I could figure it out

We've all seen windblown leaves and shucks pile up at the fence rows. Most of the time, they don't get cleaned away, they decay in place at the fence row. Along with all the silt and any other wind blown nutrient-laden dust, and continuous perennial growing roots. Many fence rows function as continuous compost rows.

Of course all our field soils are degraded when compared to that. Almost no nutrients have been removed from the fence rows. Any dry fertilizer spinner spreaders probably threw at least half rate fertilizer into the fence rows. That little strip of ground is continuously built up, decade after decade.
If you installed a good tight fence across the most degraded area of your field today, farmed around it for forty years, and then took it out, you'd be amazed how good that fence row soil would be. Especially if the fence was perpendicular to the prevailing winds. And any fences that were in place during the Dust Bowl would have accumulated ten times the nutrients as a new one now.

Using the fence rows as a comparison with the field soil isn't a valid way to determine soil degradation. And yet I know that at least some of the studies used to say that we have only sixty years of soil left did use fences in that way. I think the pillars at that rest stop in Iowa also used those studies.

It's meaningless.

My family farms around a cemetery that has been there for nearly 140 years. It's fairly level ground. There's no meaningful difference between the soil that's been in grass all those years and the soil that's been continuously cropped all those years. Nothing degraded about it. Now, there are cemeteries in the area that were set on pretty good slopes. And you can see a century's worth of erosion around them. But even that isn't progressing much today. Almost all of it occurred in the days of the plow.

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