Soil Fuels Success

When discovering and investigating what agriculture is, many people disregard the resource that is at the heart of almost all agricultural production, soil! During this virtual tour, participants focused on how soil fuels success on a Minnesota Crop Farm.

This was achieved by:

  • Digging-in to soil components and their value
  • Exploring the evolution of conservation tillage on the Ponwith Family Farm, near Cleveland, MN
  • Investigating the environmental benefits of conservation tillage practices and what all of these things mean in the big picture for the agriculture industry and our world

What are Summer Teacher Tours?

The Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Program (MAITC) is excited to offer a unique summer professional development opportunity for K-12 educators. Our Summer Teacher Tours allow educators to observe and experience current agricultural production, processing and distribution techniques, as well as exposure to a wealth of standards-based, agriculture themed lesson plans and resources. Participants will network and share how they intend to use these experiences and resources to integrate agriculture into their curricula to improve student achievement by applying authentic agricultural examples to teach core curriculum concepts in science, social studies, language arts, math and nutrition.

A Breakdown of the Day: Exploring Soil

Educators and students did a deep dive on soil and the technology surrounding it. After the tour, participants got closer to understanding the importance of soil conservation and the urgency to care for soil to continue producing sustainable crops to meet the needs of the world’s growing population. 

Ponwith Family Farm History

  • Ancestors settled in Cleveland, MN area in 1862
  • Current farm site built in 1919
  • 1990-Journey with conservation tillage practices began 
  • 2021-Where we are today.

Exploring How Soil Fuels Success

  • What is it? Why is it so important to grow a successful crop?
  • How do we manage the soil on our farm
    • Chemically: Fertility/nutrients
    • Physically: Overall structure 
    • Mechanically: Equipment, technology
  • Other conservation tillage practices
    • Each grower is doing what is best for their soil structure, equipment, weather conditions, crop rotation, etc.
  • Importance of corn and soybean crop rotation and the benefits. 

Technology and How It Impacts Soil & Crop Health

  • Precision technology 
    • GPS
    • Autosteer
  • Drones

Teacher Takeaways

I liked how the hosts broke down the information about soil science to a level that most people could understand. I took a soil science class in college, and I think that this tour of Ponwith Farms gave a very good basic understanding of what soil science is and why it is important.

I love hearing from people who are actively engaged in agriculture, hearing their stories and learning how to connect the material for my students in a relevant way.

Summer Teacher Tours

Exploring the many layers of soil and its importance to crop production isn’t the only thing that students and teachers can learn about during these summer teacher tours. All about wheat, a hydroponic container farm project, and the local to global agriculture diversity, are the other tours that will be taking place this summer.  MAITC offered this unique summer professional development opportunity for K-12 educators – four tours in five weeks of the summer!

Check Out Some Different AgMag Lessons Related to Crops

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