The underlying problem is that of soil erosion and loss of topsoil. This is a serious situation that is getting a lot of attention from us and our colleagues. MISA has a formal partnership with the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota, which is very involved in bringing forward information and fostering discussion about soil health. Through an organization related to MISA, called Green Lands Blue Waters, we are working with researchers and educators in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois to address the issue of soil erosion through development of new crops and cropping systems.
Please have a look at the following materials that provide a great deal of information about work being done to improve soil health and reduce soil and nutrient loss from farming systems.
Register for the annual Midwest Soil Health Summit if you are interested in attending to learn more about the fascinating work being done on soil health: http://www.sfa-mn.org/midwest-soil-health-summit/
Green Lands Blue Waters website: www.greenlandsbluewaters.net
Look through the “Strategies” and “Resources” sections. There is a lot of information here. Also, the Continuous Living Cover manual: http://greenlandsbluewaters.net/resources2/clc-manual
Forever Green Initiative: This is an initiative funded by the Minnesota Legislature, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, USDA, and many other sources. It is focused on developing new crops, especially perennials, that will allow development of farming systems that keep living cover on the ground all year and limit the amount of tillage required. These are things that can greatly improve soil health.
The Prairie STRIPS project at Iowa State University is also developing great information about ways to hold soil in place and reduce nutrient loss: http://www.nrem.iastate.edu/research/STRIPs/
I hope you enjoy reading these materials; and that you find it encouraging that concerns about soil health, and the nutrient loss that accompanies it, are being taken seriously.