Dr. Jerry Hatfield of the USDA-ARS lab in Ames, Iowa spoke at Old No. 1 as part of the Midwest Farm Energy Conference. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

Nobel Laureate Dr. Jerry Hatfield spoke last night at the Old No. 1 in Morris as the keynote speaker for the Midwest Farm Energy Conference. Hatfield called for diversifying crop rotations throughout the Midwest in order to save our soils and buttress the effects of climate change. The Midwest’s almost sole focus on corn and soybeans has pushed the corn belt north and west, he said, with unintended consequences for the ecosystems. The future of agriculture, he said, has to do with how we think about soil management. Our future depends on it, Hatfield said, in terms of being able to efficiently produce crops along the way.

Hatfield cited studies of fields that were brought back to good health after one year of no tilling. He’s also done research on cover crops that showed a doubling of the microbial base in the soil within two years of using the cover crops. The conference concludes today at the West Central Research and Outreach Center with a focus on swine producers.

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