MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Students at a working farm and hands-on classroom in Wisconsin are learning about the benefits of stopping soil erosion.
Northcentral Technical College's Agriculture Center for Excellence is working with the National Corn Growers Association's Soil Health Partnership to preserve and improve topsoil, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
The center is teaching farmers to practice no-till and cover crop agriculture as ways to preserve root structure and stop erosion.
"I can't control climate change, but we can control erosion just through our farming practices," said Steve Krueger, a crop science instructor the agriculture center.
No-till farming requires farmers to use special tools to plant seeds in order to avoid disturbing the soil's ecosystems.
"You don't dig up the ground before you plant," said Don Radtke, farm operations manager at the center. "We have special planters that have a disc on the front that will open the soil, put the seed in place, and pack it in place without disturbing the rest of the soil."
Scientists say climate change is threatening strides made in soil conservation since the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. The warming trend in Wisconsin is producing more frequent heavy rain that is washing away soil, according to a report from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts.
More than 30,000 tons of soil has eroded in the state since 2003, the report said.
"Three tons is a pretty big pile of soil, correct? It takes a long time to replace it," Krueger said. "So what we're really trying to do is not ship all of our dirt down the Mississippi River and put it in the delta, because that's where it ends up."
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org