Seeding Alfalfa this Fall

The most important question you need to ask yourself if you are interested in seeding alfalfa this fall is the following: What do I want to obtain from this alfalfa? Answering that question leads us to these case scenarios:

Seeding alfalfa as a forage crop in new fields

The most important decision when establishing a new alfalfa field is variety selection. A good variety not only guarantees better yield and forage quality but it also helps with crop establishment and crop management. A more complete technical review for establishing new alfalfa fields will be covered in the article “Establishing New Alfalfa Fields – Your Technical Checklist” in a future edition of From the Ground Up.

Seeding alfalfa after alfalfa

Because of alfalfa’s autotoxicity properties, seeding alfalfa after alfalfa can be risky. Studies recommend waiting at least three to five weeks between elimination of the old alfalfa crop and establishment of the new one. Tillage seems to help new alfalfa by breaking down residue and the toxins affecting new alfalfa establishment. Rainfall and soil biology also affect the success of reestablishing alfalfa. Rainfall helps wash out the autotoxic compounds and microorganisms that help degrade the toxins.

Re-seeding alfalfa to fix poor stands

Any grower with a current alfalfa field should plan on making a field/crop assessment this fall, ideally after the final harvest of the season. A final assessment should be done to determine any liming, nutrient or reseeding needs. Alfalfa is a crop that naturally tends to lessen its density over time because alfalfa doesn’t reseed itself. Planting more alfalfa into current alfalfa fields is not recommended since alfalfa has autotoxicity characteristics. A good population/density is about 35 well-growing stems per square foot. If population density is very low then a grower could consider planting a new field or interseeding with other species/grasses to improve the current crop.

Seeding alfalfa as a cover crop

YES, alfalfa can be used as a good cover crop between main crops! If used as a cover crop, you need to take into account that alfalfa is a great soil builder, a good source of N, an effective subsoiler and an erosion preventer. However, alfalfa is neither a very good N scavenger, nor is it a competitor against weeds. If used as a cover crop the time of planting is key (August to early September is ideal). You also need to take into account variety selection. Non-dormant varieties would be better for this purpose since they do not survive winters. Otherwise you will need to schedule and budget tillage (multiple passes) or herbicide applications to kill your alfalfa cover crop during the spring. 

Benefits of Bio-Cal® for Soil Health

When Gary Zimmer was first looking for a calcium-based product to improve his soil quality, he discovered Bio-Cal®. He noticed remarkable improvements to his soil quality, as well as forage yield and quality, soon after the first application to his hay fields. Bio-Cal is now known for its proven benefits for yield and quality on forages and is also an excellent soil conditioner that improves water infiltration and soil structure – benefits that any crop can take advantage of!

Bio-Cal contains five different kinds of calcium, ranging from immediately plant-available to more slowly available sources. The combination of the five sources act on soil chemistry to help break up tight soils and improve water infiltration while at the same time providing an essential nutrient to soil organisms, including earthworms, building that beautiful, chocolate-cake texture that is indicative of healthy soil.

Gary Zimmer has been applying Bio-Cal (and its organic counterpart, OrganiCal™) to his farm in the fall for many years. Gary prefers to apply Bio-Cal or OrganiCal in the fall for several reasons. “On my forage ground, Bio-Cal helps get the alfalfa conditioned for winter. I like to apply it this time of the year to improve forage quality and soil structure.” Gary also sees benefits from applying Bio-Cal or OrganiCal to non-forage acres in the fall. “For ground going into corn and beans next year, after harvest in the fall is the best time to spread Bio-Cal. The ground is generally drier, and I don’t have as much to do as in early spring, which means I have time to get Bio-Cal on all of my ground. Putting it on in the fall also helps with residue break down and gives the calcium a chance to interact with the soil, improving soil structure for spring.”

It’s been an extremely wet year in much of the Midwest, and all of the heavy rainfall events have taken a toll on the soils on many farms. Even if you’re taking steps to improve your soil structure, getting six inches of rain in one day can lead to runoff. Below are two pictures of neighboring fields in Wisconsin. On July 19 and 20, six inches of rain fell on these fields. One week later, most of the water soaked in on the field that received Bio-Cal, while the neighboring field, which did not receive Bio-Cal, is still saturated. Given that these fields are managed differently, Bio-Cal may not be the only factor in the difference in soil quality, but there is no doubt that the Bio-Cal-treated field was able to absorb the heavy rainfall much better than the field that did not receive any Bio-Cal.

Call your Midwestern BioAg Consultant today and ask how they can help you get Bio-Cal on your farm.

Are You Ready to Go Organic?

With low commodity prices and high organic crop prices, transitioning to organic can look awfully appealing. But is organic really right for you? Successful organic farming takes good soils and a different mindset than conventional farming. Are you, and your soil, ready to go organic?

Below are a few things to consider when assessing whether organic is a good fit for your farm:

Are my soils healthy, with a lot of organic matter and good nutrient cycling?

In organic production you need to rely on a balance of nutrients from naturally-mined sources and healthy soils to cycle nutrients. If your soils aren’t healthy now, switching to organic doesn’t automatically make them better. Spend some time building soil health, using calcium and balanced fertility and building organic matter before starting to transition, or plan to set aside two years of transition to really build up soil health without worrying about taking off a crop.

Do I have good weed control tools and the knowledge needed to run them?

In a 2016 Oregon Tilth survey of transitioning and organic farmers, farmers said the biggest obstacle to success was weed management. Switching from a couple of spray passes to mechanical control is daunting and requires time and skill. It also helps to have some cooperation from the weather. Learning how to manage weeds can make or break your yields and profits for the year.

Do I have access to a good manure source?

Manure is an excellent source of nutrients for organic crops. You can get the nutrients you need through mined minerals, cover crops and healthy soils, but having a good manure source provides needed nutrients, especially nitrogen, and can help build soil quality.

Am I ready to add some different types of plants to my rotation?

Plant diversity builds soil quality and breaks pest cycles, and organic rules require plant diversity on organic acres. Plant diversity includes the use of cover crops and green manures. In order to be successful, adding new plants can require learning some new techniques.

Am I ready to think differently about my farm?

Organic farming requires a different mindset: The whole farm must be managed like an ecosystem, where all of the parts interact. Keeping everything healthy and functioning is your top priority. Building soil health, keeping plants healthy by applying a balance of all minerals, focusing on preventing pests and diseases rather than treating them, spending more time monitoring crops, and being prepared to till up a crop that doesn’t look good and put the field in cover crops for the year – these are all management and mindset shifts that are required in order to have a productive, high-yielding organic farm.

There is a lot of appeal to higher prices in organic crops in the current farm economy. If you have the right mindset, and are open and willing to make some changes on your farm, transitioning to organic can be a very profitable and satisfying way to go.

Leveraging Soil Microbes to Build SOM, Crop Yields

Healthy, productive soils have large pools of stable soil organic matter. Soil organic matter (SOM) is key to plant drought resistance and sustainable food production. Understanding how to build and maintain soil organic matter is key to achieving high crop yields, while also maintaining healthy soil structure and reducing nutrient loss.

Soil Microbes & SOM Formation

Research done at the University of New Hampshire is shedding new light on the role that microbes play in the formation of soil organic matter.1 Their research suggests that SOM is a mixture of dead microbial cells and the byproducts formed when microbes breakdown plant roots and residues, rather than coming directly from the plants and residues themselves.

It is now understood that microbes play a key role in converting crop residues and other inputs in the soil ecosystem. Microbes (bacteria and fungi) can take carbon sources (sugars, plant material) and convert them to various organic molecules such as proteins, lipids, and complex sugars. It is these that make up the bank of SOM, or soil humus, from which we derive agronomic benefit.What the researchers at the University of New Hampshire have shown is that soils can accumulate large amounts of the complex, stable soil organic matter in the absence of plant residues and exudates.

In fact, even when microbes were fed only table sugar, the SOM that was produced was nearly identical to the SOM found naturally in fields. This is an important step in understanding SOM formation because knowing whether a particular molecule of SOM came from a plant or a microbe, once it is formed, is practically impossible.

Healthy Microbes, Healthy Soils

The microbes that are present in the soil drive this process — more so than the actual soil type. This means that if you focus on the health of the soil microbiome, you can build soil health. Microbial communities and soil types differ from field to field and even within fields. And with these changes, the rate and type of SOM formation changes. What does not change, however, is that healthy, diverse soil microbial communities supported by good agronomic practices drive healthy, diverse organic matter formation in the soil.

Fertility plans should account for crop residue and nutrient removal to build soil health and fertility. By focusing on the health of the soil and the microbial communities in the soil, we are most likely to optimize soil organic matter formation, increase crop yields and improve plant health.2

Many actions can be taken to preserve and rebuild soils to maximize the retention and recycling of organic matter and nutrients.3 This can be accomplished by minimizing losses to leaching, runoff and erosion through reduced tillage, diverse crop rotations and fertilizer selection.4

 

References:

1. Kallenbach CM, Frey SD, Grandy AS. Direct evidence for microbial-derived soil organic matter formation and its ecophysiological controls. Nature Communications (2016) 7:13630, DOI: 10.1038/nommons13630

2. Amaranthus M, Allyn B. Healthy Microbes, Healthy People. The Atlantic. June 11, 2013.

3. Bot A and Benites J. The importance of soil organic matter. FAO Soils Bulletin. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2005)

4. Cookson WE, Murphy DV, Roper MM. Characterizing the relationships between soil organic matter components and microbial function and composition along a tillage disturbance gradient. Soil Biology and Biochemistry (2008) 40: 763-777.

Proactive Management, Cow Comfort Keys to Organic Farming Success

In 1993, the team at R & G Miller & Sons, Inc. opted to make the switch to organic dairy farming. “We weren’t satisfied with the way things were going on the farm,” said Ron Miller, general farm manager. “After becoming organic certified on all 1,550 acres and feeding our cattle organic feed for a year, we became fully organic certified in 1997. Since the transition, our yields have gone up, and I’ve only seen one alfalfa field on the farm that could benefit from pesticide application.”

Established in 1852, the Columbus-based family farm has a rich history in the Wisconsin dairy industry. The operation has come a long way since its establishment, allowing for major improvements in cow comfort, a focus at the heart of the farm’s success. “We put in one of the first parlors in Wisconsin in 1969,” said Ron. “It was a double six herringbone parlor.”

Since then, that same herringbone parlor was replaced with a 30-stall Rotaflo carousel parlor, older farm buildings have made way for new freestall housing featuring rubber-filled mattresses for the cows, and a wood-heated building with advanced ventilation now houses the farm’s replacement calves.

A Midwestern BioAg customer since 2011, Ron and his team work with Dave Meidl, Midwestern BioAg’s Director of Nutrition, to help manage the farm’s livestock nutrition and agronomy programs. Dave works with all members of the dairy’s team to leverage inputs across the farm, helping keep production strong and profitable.

“R & G Miller & Sons is an excellent example of how managing the farm as a system builds profitability,” said Dave. “On organic dairy farms, access to an ample supply of quality forage is essential to success. Cows on nutrient-dense, high-forage diets stay healthy and perform well. When you have limited treatment options for common issues like milk fever, preventive care from a quality feed program is invaluable. We have to keep those cows eating.”

In the past six years since working with Dave and making changes to their cropping system, the team at R & G Miller & Sons has almost doubled their corn silage yields to 20 ton/ac, improved alfalfa yields by 5 ton/ac and increased their rolling-herd average by 4,000 lbs to 22,358 lbs.

Organic Fertility Program

“We fertilize our hay ground after the first and third cutting,” said Ron. “We dual-apply a Midwestern BioAg forage fertilizer and OrganiCal™.” OrganiCal is Midwestern BioAg’s OMRI-listed calcium and sulfur soil amendment designed to improve both forage quality and yield. “Our custom harvester says we have some of the highest-yielding hay fields he’s seen,” said Ron.

Forages are typically bagged, tested and labeled by field and cutting. This allows Dave to adjust rations as feeding changes occur, maximizing the efficiency of all supplemental minerals.

The typical rotation at R & G Miller & Sons includes alfalfa for three years, followed by corn, soybeans, corn and winter triticale. Triticale grain is roasted and fed to the herd, while the residue is used for straw bedding.

A diverse crop rotation is essential, and required, in organic farming. It helps build soil fertility and break pest and disease cycles, important benefits to farms with limited access to crop protection chemicals. Crop nutrients are added as needed following the farms nutrient management plan and National Organic Standards (NOP), which stipulate nutrient application needs must be identified by a soil test.

The farm uses manure as their primary nitrogen source, partnering with a nearby conventional dairy farmer for additional access to manure. “We also apply some chicken manure,” said Ron, “and plant cover crops following corn silage when the weather cooperates.”

Cover crops seeded at R & G Miller & Sons have included tillage radish, sorghum, buckwheat and rye. “We’ve had good luck with tillage radish and buckwheat,” said Ron. “Rye can be difficult to manage, so it’s important to plow it under while it’s young, before it can tie up too much nitrogen.”

The farm applies starter at planting for their corn and soybeans, and uses a blend of Midwestern BioAg’s SuperRoot® and elemental sulfur for additional nutrients. “We apply this blend through our insecticide box. It helps keep the birds out of our fields, which improves emergence,” said Ron.

The farm’s rotationally grazed pastures are fertilized each fall with a combination of Midwestern BioAg pasture fertilizer and OrganiCal. Paddocks are reseeded as needed to keep quality high.

Tips on Transitioning

“On the crop side, our biggest transitioning challenge was dealing with weed pressure in corn,” said Ron. “There weren’t many other organic farmers to network with at the time, and a lot of what we learned was by trial and error. Since then, we’ve learned that rotary hoeing twice before the corn gets about four inches high helps us stay ahead of weed pressure.”

R & G Miller & Sons uses a Lemken field cultivator for tillage. This tool allows them to keep tillage as shallow as possible and prevent unnecessary soil disturbance. “An implement dealer brought the machine to our farm as a demo,” said Ron. “It never left the farm. It plowed under a two-foot stand of alfalfa easily, something we could never achieve with our chisel plow.”

The team typically cultivates corn twice in the spring, or as needed based on weather and weed pressure. In extreme cases, they use a flame weeder. “We retrofitted a sprayer with an LP tank and burners to help us address severe weed pressure,” said Ron. “It can create a yield drag, so we only use it when necessary.”

The dairy herd transition went smoothly. “Transitioning the herd wasn’t difficult for us,” said Ron. “We saw a slight drop in production since we weren’t pushing as much protein, but the milk price increase made up the difference.”
R & G Miller & Sons has worked with Organic Valley for milk marketing since they first transitioned. “The team at Organic Valley is fantastic. We really value them as a partner,” said Ron.

The farm uses Ex-cell Countdown 7000 for mastitis treatment, aspirin as needed and feeds probiotics regularly to all their animals. Electrolytes are given to calves as needed to help with scours and other issues.

Future Projects

With an eye on continuous improvement, R & G Miller & Sons is currently trialing an organic-allowed liquid sugar supplement from Midwestern BioAg for their dairy herd. “Dave came to us with the idea in January and was excited to try it,” said Ron. “When Dave gets excited about something, we usually do, too.” The farm hopes to use the product to combat the “summer slump” often seen in grazing herds in late summer. “We plan to use it as an energy source for our cows to improve overall performance,” said Ron. “I think we’re already seeing a difference in digestion and body condition, as well as milk production.”

“R & G Miller & Sons is a leader in the industry,” said Dave. “It’s inspiring to be a part of their team. Their dedication to cow comfort and attention to management is admirable. I look forward to continuing to be their partner in organic farm management.”

You Spoke. We Listened.

Dear Customer,

Last year, Midwestern BioAg conducted a survey to help evaluate our customer service and products. Survey participants were chosen at random, and over 360 customers responded. We gained key insight into areas where we can improve administratively, and also gained better understanding of what matters most to our customers. From the analysis, a few key findings emerged:

  • Soil heath matters. A majority of our customers reported that they do business with us to improve soil health on their farms. We are inspired and honored to have you as our partners as we help the industry achieve better farming through better soil.
  • Better in-season support. Many of you requested more in-season support to help evaluate crop and product performance. When things are working — and even when they are not — we want to make sure we are there to support you. We are actively discussing steps we can take to improve in-season support this year.
  • Growing interest in organic transition. We were impressed — and surprised — to learn that many of our current conventional customers are considering a transition to organic farming. If you’re considering switching to organic, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your consultant for helpful tips and advice.

We can’t thank you enough for all your helpful insights! We wish you a successful summer growing season and a plentiful harvest this fall!

—The Midwestern BioAg Team

Measuring Forage Quality

Forage test components and benchmarks have changed considerably over the years. In this Q&A, we sat down with Midwestern BioAg’s Director of Nutrition Dave Meidl to gain a deeper understanding of forage test components and how test results can be used to inform management decisions on dairy farms.

Q: How can I use trace mineral data from my forage test to improve results on my farm?

Plants have the unique ability to transform inorganic minerals from the soil or fertilizer into organic, highly available forms. Fertilizer blends with trace minerals can increase forage mineral content and yield, helping producers save on supplemental mineral and feed costs.

Most forages are low in calcium and high in potassium due to common imbalances in typical fertilizer programs. We recommend fertilizing for forage calcium levels at 1.5 percent or above, and keeping potassium levels under 3 percent. Phosphorus and magnesium should be at 0.35 percent or higher. When minerals reach these target levels, cows perform exceptionally well.

Q: Why should I evaluate forage protein content alongside nitrogen and sulfur?

Protein use is optimized in the cow when forages contain a nitrogen-to-sulfur ratio of 10:1. Without available sulfur, forage crops cannot make the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine. Under these conditions, forages can form excessive nitrates and incomplete proteins, which can negatively affect herd health. Adding sulfate sulfur to fertilizer helps plants form complete, available proteins.

Q: How can fiber impact production?

Fiber values in forage tests represent digestibility. As ADF increases, forage digestibility decreases. Neutral Detergent Fiber Digestibility (NDFD) is an estimate of the portion of NDF digested by rumen microbes over a period of time. Higher NDFD results in increased dry matter intake (DMI) and production. It’s estimated that a one-unit increase in NDFD can increase DMI by 0.37 lbs and milk production by 0.55 lbs.

uNDF240 is a more precise analysis than lignin that measures and evaluates indigestible fiber. This is the amount of forage NDF that will never be digested. uNDF240 has many uses, including rate calculations for NDF digestion (as an indicator of rumen fill and intake potential) and forage comparison.

Q. How does digestible fiber provide energy?

When forages grow with a proper balance of nutrients, they produce solid stems filled with white, fibrous material called pectins. Pectins are carbohydrates from digestible fibers that break down into sugars in the rumen and provide energy. When calcium and boron are included in the forage fertility program, pectin levels also increase, improving digestibility.

Selecting the Right Calcium Source for Your Soil

Calcium plays a vital role in plant growth, specifically cell wall formation, cell division and pollination. It also signals plants to respond to drought and heat stress, activates many plant enzyme systems and helps plants absorb other nutrients. Calcium also promotes healthy soil structure by loosening soils and stabilizing organic matter, which increases soil water- and nutrient-holding capacity.

When evaluating calcium needs on your farm, we recommend looking at three key factors on your soil test: Soil pH, cation exchange capacity (CEC) and percent base saturation of calcium.

Soil pH

Soil pH is a well understood concept in farming. When pH drops below 6.5, growers understand the need for liming materials to increase soil pH and improve nutrient availability.

A common misconception is if soil pH is above 6.5, you don’t need to apply calcium. However, regular calcium application is needed to maintain optimal soil health and plant performance.

Two common liming materials are calcitic lime (CaCO3) and dolomitic lime (CaMgCO3). While both contain calcium, the ability of lime to increase soil pH is actually a function of carbonate (CO3) in the lime. When applied to acidic soils, CO3 reacts and neutralizes acidity, effectively raising pH.

If lime is not needed to raise pH, apply calcium in a form crops can easily take up. Bio-Cal® or OrganiCal™ are both good options for bulk-application calcium sources. If precision application is desired, consider applying a granulated product like TerraNu Calcium™.

Cation Exchange Capacity

Cation exchange capacity (CEC) is a measure of soil’s capacity to hold nutrients. Soils with greater CECs can hold more nutrients, but this may not indicate plant availability. Without knowing CEC, it is difficult to make fertility recommendations because CEC indicates the soil’s potential for crop production.

Think of CEC like a dinner plate — the greater the CEC, the more nutrients the soil can hold.

Percent Base Saturation

Percent base saturation is the percentage of exchangeable potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and hydrogen in the soil (total = 100 percent). Growers should maintain a calcium percent base saturation level of 70 to 80 percent for optimum soil conditions and plant performance.

Calcium base saturation levels above 80 percent can mean you’re short on potassium or magnesium. If present, these deficiencies should be addressed through a fertility program. Recommended soil calcium levels as a function of CEC are summarized in Table 1.

Selecting Products

There are multiple calcium products available on the market with varying quality, formulation and physical forms. Commonly applied calcium products and their features and benefits are outlined in Table 2. Once you’ve determined what soil or crop deficiencies you’ll address with your calcium program, selecting the right product becomes much simpler. Other factors, such as available application equipment and tillage methods, must also be taken into account.

Because calcium deficiencies can negatively impact almost every aspect of crop production, it’s important to frequently monitor soil calcium levels. Keep in mind that plant and soil calcium needs vary widely. To ensure plant availability of calcium all season, we recommend applying calcium products that contain multiple sources of calcium like Bio-Cal or OrganiCal for season-long availability. If additional sulfur and organic matter is needed, TerraNu Calcium is an excellent fit.

Evaluating Stand Health: A Closer Look at Winter Injury

A hardy perennial crop, alfalfa typically overwinters in the Midwest well. However, a variety of environmental and management factors can have big impacts on a stand’s ability to overwinter successfully. Understanding these factors and how to manage them can help increase stand life and yield potential.

What is Winter Injury?

Winter injury can occur for a variety of reasons, but lack of snow cover and unusual freeze-thaw cycles are two of the most common causes. “Alfalfa plants can typically tolerate three weeks of winter injury before dying,” said Dave Meidl, Midwestern BioAg’s Director of Nutrition. “Snow acts as insulation for plants, so when snowfall is lighter, the risk of winter injury increases.”

Stand Assessment

Evaluating stand health early helps growers identify winter injury with ample time for action. “We recommend assessing stand counts before May,” said Meidl. “We also like to look at root color. Plants with winter injury will have dark, withered roots. Healthy roots are firmer and lighter in color.”

Stands with counts below 40 stems per square foot should be terminated or interseeded with another forage crop to maximize production potential. “Factoring in stand age is important when selecting reseeding or interseeding options,” said Meidl. “Stands less than one year old with extensive winterkill will likely need replanting. While you can interseed alfalfa in thin areas, the likelihood of young plants being eliminated by established plants in late spring is significant. Stands over two years old cannot be reseeded with alfalfa due to autotoxicity, but growers can interseed grasses or clovers to thicken stands.”

Causes of Winter Injury

While most common causes of winter injury are environmental, several management factors can impact stand performance in spring. “Soil fertility can play a big role in stand health,” said Meidl. “A sufficient supply of nutrients can greatly improve a plant’s ability to survive harsh winters.”

Stressed plants without access to adequate fertility cannot produce enough carbohydrates for the winter months. “During winter, plants generate energy from carbohydrates stored in their roots. Without an ample supply, plants are at risk for winter injury,” said Meidl.

Alfalfa stands on an aggressive harvest schedule or harvested late in the season are also more likely to winterkill. “We recommend avoiding harvest between September 1 and October 15 to help prevent winter injury, and leaving up to six inches of stubble before the first freeze,” said Meidl. “This allows plants to store more carbohydrates in their roots as energy for the long winter months.” 

The Biological Farmer: Fully Revised & Expanded

It has been 16 years since Gary Zimmer first published his ground-breaking book, The Biological Farmer. That booked paved the way for many farmers to gain a deep appreciation for their soils and introduced them to a different way of thinking about farming. After a year of writing, the second edition of the book was released this year.

The new edition follows the same format as the original edition, and is still one of the best resources available to gain a better understanding of soils, the value of fertilizer ingredients, how those ingredients interact with soils, and why soil health leads to healthier crops, higher yields and better farm profits. The book still contains real-world examples from biological farmers, updated to include their latest stories of on-farm successes and challenges.

Much has changed in agriculture over the last 16 years and a lot of those changes are reflected in the new edition. We don’t always notice how much things are changing when we’re focused on this year’s planting, this year’s fertilizer, this year’s harvest and this year’s prices, but when you look back, the recent changes to agriculture are remarkable. The first edition of The Biological Farmer came out in 2000, and at that time, only a small percentage of farmers were planting GMO crops. Cover crops were still a novelty, and it was a pretty rare and out-there fertilizer salesman who was selling biologicals. 

Today, ag markets are inundated with new biologicals, seed enhancers and the latest and greatest microbes to add to your soil. Cover crops and soil health have also gone from the fringes to the mainstream with talks and articles on these topics in just about every ag conference and ag magazine out there. To help farmers navigate this rapidly growing market, the book contains more information on biologicals. New sections on cover crop management and soil health have also been added to guide farmers in their decision making processes. There is also more information about soil biology and soil carbon in the new edition of the book, and a new chapter devoted to seed selection.

All of this updated and new information does mean the book has gotten lengthier — despite removing outdated information, the revised edition is over 100 pages longer than the original!  Our hope is that the new edition is easier to read and provides you with even more knowledge and tools to guide you on your biological farming path. 

Copies of Gary’s new book can be purchased from your Midwestern BioAg consultant or online from the Acres USA bookstore