Field DayHheld at Steffen Farm

On June 28th more than 70 farmers convened at Jeff and Jolene Steffen’s farm near Constance, to learn how to improve farm profits through conservation practices as part of the 2022 Bow Creek Field Day.

A dynamic group of speakers addressed the group, featuring Rick Clark (No-till Organic Farmer), Loran Steinlage (Farm Equipment Engineer), Paul Jasa (UNL Extension Engineer), Becky Ravenkamp (Bow Creek Watershed Coordinator), Katja Koehler- Cole (Soil Health Management Extension Educator), Jeff Steffen (Host), and Tauana Ferreira de Almeida (Ph. D. Graduate Student, University of Nebraska- Lincoln).

Starting off the presentations, Katja Koehler-Cole spoke about the importance of soil health and the biology of soil. She explained the different organisms and bacteria that are important in a sustainable ecosystem to create productive soil for crops.

No-till farmer and host of the field day, Jeff Steffen, presented on-farm data, showing the profitability of his no-till management system. He also shared results from a trial planting of 60-inch row corn interseeded with cover crops.

In the field, attendees evaluated the effectiveness of using a roller crimper to terminate rye and assessed crop emergence through three different rye termination methods. UNL agronomy field research was discussed by Tauana Ferreira de Almeida including moisture sensor data to evaluate how different cover crop termination methods impact soil moisture use and recharge, and in-season nitrogen release from cover crops. 

Paul Jasa demonstrated how farmers can evaluate soil moisture using a simple soil probe. In a soil pit, attendees could see the soil moisture levels indicated by the probe confirming above ground analysis. Rick Clark began afternoon presentations explaining his organic no-till system. Clark has increased farm profits using plants to boost soil fertility and control weeds and insect pests. He stressed that successful integrated organic, no-till systems require an in depth understanding of soil health, ecosystem principles, and the use of new tools and technologies. 

Next, Loran Steinlage introduced innovative tools and technologies for notill farming. He explained how innovative practices and equipment allow him to grow crops 365 days per year while decreasing expenses, improving organic matter, and improving overall farm profitability.