Soil School: Don't flirt with snirt

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For those who love soil, there’s nothing quite so painful as driving along a country road in winter, and seeing topsoil smeared along the snow banks.

“Snirt” or “snoil”, depending on who you ask, is valuable top soil that’s been picked up by wind and shifted in to ditches, approaches, or even neighbouring fields.

In this episode of the Soil School, we get a very (loud) visual demonstration of various speeds of wind and the dramatic impact surface residue or living plants can have on decreasing the risk of top soil erosion.

Jared House, of Grant County Soil and Water Conservation District in Minnesota, says the demonstration compared the risk of soil movement from conventional tillage, to minimum tillage, all the way to cover crop coverage at varying wind speeds to show the difference in ability to create “snirt.” (Story continues below video)

House says they simulated up to 43 mph wind speed, and although that did show how large particles will stay put, smaller particles, of which there are more of when soil is tilled, still move.

What’s more, he adds that while farmers have been adopting lower tillage strategies and cover cropping as a means to decrease soil erosion risk by wind, the average wind speeds have been picking up — resulting in snirt still happening.

Related:

Wheat Pete’s Word: Wind erosion takes your BEST soil

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