The SHARE Farm Concept

The Soil Health and Agriculture Research Extension (SHARE) Farm is the premier site for the NDSU Soil Health program where field-scale, long-term, farmer-driven research is being conducted.  To accompany the research program is an equally complex Extension program.   The goal of the SHARE Farm is to bring whole-systems evaluation to soil health building practices by involving NDSU faculty from soil science, plant science, entomology, climatology, engineering and ag economics.

SHARE Farm Timeline

2013

SHARE Farm established in Mooreton, ND

2014

Subsurface drainage installed on north half of field

Salinity research studies initiated
Soil Health Café Talk program launched

2015

NDAWN Station installed and included in network

Conservation tillage research began

2016

No-till and inclusion of cover crops underway

Site enrolled in NCGA Soil Health Partnership (SHP) program
Two-Day Bus Tour started

2017

SHP sampling and evaluation of soil health underway

2018

Completion three crop rotation with cover crops on no-till

2019

Second SHARE Farm established in Larimore, ND

Research

Several different aspects of management systems have been evaluated at the SHARE Farm.  Research ideas come directly from farmer input making this an extremely relevant research site for North Dakota agriculture.

A primary management concern of farmers relates to soil salinity.  Historically, North Dakota producers have had to deal with surface soil salinity, however, the extent and severity of salts have worsened due to a decades-long wet climatic cycle.  At the SHARE Farm, we have assessed management approaches including crop tolerance and selection, subsurface tile drainage, identifying insect and disease pressures in saline conditions and development of in-field sensors for monitoring.

Farmers are also interested in reducing tillage and incorporating cover crops in rotation on high clay Red River Valley soils.  Field-scale research projects evaluating these approaches have been conducted on-site.  Science-based information and recommendations provides guidance to farmers and helps reduce the risk associated with transitioning from conventional into soil health building systems on-farm.

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Photo credit: Larry Biri

Extension

Distributing science-based information in multiple ways coupled with feedback received from farmers, consultants, industry and other educators is the key to the SHARE Farm Extension programming.  Traditional approaches, such as the Café Talk program, create opportunities for conversations on how to incorporate soil health building practices on-farm.  With this approach, university research, farmer experience, consultant perspectives and industry products are considered to encourage adoption of practices on-farm.  Modern approaches are also utilized, including the use of web-based videos and Twitter (@NDSUsoilhealth), to share information.  This provides farmers access to science-based soil health information 24-hours a day.

The AgWeek Soil Health Minute was also developed to share information using a Television segment and magazine column.   Awareness is drawn and recommendations made based on various research projects at NDSU and on-farm practices.  This program has created state-wide, more likely regional, impact for soil health.