Southwest North Dakota Soil Health Demonstration

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $175,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Toby Stroh
Dakota West RC &D
Ty Eisenbraun
Central Stark and Western Soil Conservation

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, oats, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Vegetables: peas (culinary), radishes (culinary), turnips
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: catch crops, crop rotation, cover crops, no-till, nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, workshop
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    The goal of this project is to improve yield stability, farm income, and natural resource health of farms on the semi-arid plains. This project will demonstrate improvements in soil health and productivity through the restoration of soil organic matter and the soil food web. These changes will be demonstrated on a 160 acre long-term demonstration site and on at least 15 cooperating farms by implementing diverse crop rotations, cover crops, and no-till planting. Increased sustainability will be realized through improved regulation and more efficient use of both the water cycle and organic matter-driven nutrient cycling, and by reduced need for and application of purchased nutrient and pesticide inputs. Participating producers will be invited to follow the demonstration model established and fully participate in promulgating outcomes based on their individual experiences. Over the three-year project period, outputs and outcomes will be presented through a diverse outreach plan carried out jointly by Dakota West Resource, Conservation & Development Council, three Soil Conservation Districts, the NRCS, Dickinson State University and North Dakota State University. Evaluation of outcomes will include measurable changes in level of knowledge as well as social acceptance and implementation of project objectives and strategies.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This demonstration project will implement a cropping system that minimizes soil disturbance, maximizes crop rotation diversity, increases the amount of time that living roots permeate the soil, and improves soil organic matter and soil health. The objectives of this project will be to demonstrate the implementation of an agricultural system including forage production that maximizes improvement in soil organic matter and soil health. The goal of this project will be to have a balanced, active soil food web.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.