Can Long-Term Soil Health Practices Improve Water Quality?

Soil health experts to discuss practice implementation and water quality

September 28, 2022, 1:13 pm | Alena Whitaker

AMES, Iowa – In an Oct. 5 webinar hosted by Iowa Learning Farms, two soil health experts from Ohio will discuss a study they are conducting on the interrelationships between agricultural soil, water and the practices being utilized to address nutrient losses and water quality.

The webinar will feature Vinayak Shedekar, research scientist at Ohio State University in Columbus, and Will Osterholz, research soil scientist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Soil Drainage Research Unit in Columbus.

Edge of field water quality monitoring.Shedekar’s current research is focused on agricultural water management, monitoring and modeling of soil health, hydrology and water quality. Osterholz is currently investigating relationships between in-field soil health and edge-of-field water quality, as well as the contributions of legacy soil phosphorus sources to phosphorus losses from agricultural landscapes.

Iowa Learning Farms is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach conservation and water quality education program.

In the webinar, “Can Long-Term Soil Health Practices Improve Water Quality?,” Shedekar and Osterholz will draw on a study they are conducting in Ohio, to discuss the interrelationships between agricultural soil, water, and the practices being utilized to address nutrient losses and water quality.

Osterholz will focus his comments on the soil health component, relating the benefits of cover crops and no-till to soil health, especially when adopted over long periods of time. He will also discuss ongoing research to better understand the effect of these practices on edge-of-field water and differences between transitional and mature implementations.

Shedekar will share information and outcomes of their study regarding monitoring water quality as it is discharged from fields with short- and long-term history of soil health practices as well as in comparison to adjacent fields in which no soil health practices have been utilized.

“We know that practices such as cover crops and no-till can improve soil health, but we are aiming to expand the body of knowledge to identify where these soil health practices positively affect water quality," said Shedekar. “Finding whether good soil health is equal to water quality, and under what circumstances and timescale, should provide the industry with important information to inform decision making.”

Participants in Iowa Learning Farms Conservation Webinars are encouraged to ask questions of the presenters. People from all backgrounds and areas of interest are encouraged to join.

Webinar access instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon CDT Oct. 5:

The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time.

A Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit has been applied for. Those who participate in the live webinar are eligible. Information about how to apply to receive the CEU will be provided at the end of the live webinar.

Upcoming webinars in the series

  • Oct. 12: Laura Alt, Iowa State University.
  • Oct. 19: Prashant Jha, Iowa State University.
  • Oct. 26: Matt Nowatzke, Iowa State University.
  • Nov. 2: Adam Schnieders, Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Shareable photo: Edge of field water quality monitoring.

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