SYCAMORE, Ill. — A workshop, “Building Healthy Soil: Why organic matter is the most important indicator of soil health and what is being done to build it up,” is planned from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, July 30, at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Center for Agriculture, 1350 West Prairie Dr., Sycamore.

Attendees will be shown how to prevent nutrients from leaching into waterways while building soil fertility.

University of Illinois researchers Richard Mulvaney and Saeed Kahn, who co-authored 2007 and 2009 papers about soil carbon and organic matter losses caused by manmade nitrogen, will discuss their findings. Their work on America’s oldest testing field and 120 others worldwide underlie their conclusion that “half a century after the onset of input-intensive agriculture, many of the world’s most productive soils have been degraded” and “the prevailing system…does not provide the means to intensify food and fiber production without degrading the soil resource.”

Last year’s drought and this year’s heavy rains have loaded the Mississippi River with possibly more unused nitrogen and phosphorus than ever before.

“Over a month ago I was talking with a Corn Growers Association district leader located along the Mississippi. He and his peers think if a massive algae bloom two or three times bigger than normal does occur in the Gulf of Mexico, that could very well lead to new nitrogen and phosphorus restrictions being imposed,” said Matt Van Slyke, organizer of the event.

Ocean experts predicted a large dead zone area in the Gulf of Mexico this year. According to results released recently by a Texas A&M University researcher just back from studying the region, those predictions appear to be right on target.

An AgriEnergy Resources agronomist and a microbiologist will give reasons for using live microbial inputs, which they said has led to county-leading yields for customers using 100 pounds or less of synthetic nitrogen per acre. On AgriEnergy’s research farm in Princeton, following a crimson clover cover crop in 2008, they grew 211-bushel corn with no added nitrogen.

Another speaker, agronomist Ron Althoff, who graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in soil science in 1969, will present “Matching Cover Crops to Your Farm Needs.”

Pre-registrations are required by July 28 and can be made by phoning (815) 756-3236, extension 3, or emailing dean.johnson@il.nacdnet.net.