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Field Day at Homeplace on Green River
May field day at Homeplace helps foster learning about healthy soils and the benefits of Soil Health Cover Crops.
By Billy Joe Fudge, vice-president, Homeplace on Green River, and retired district forester, Kentucky Division of Forestry
A group of farm producers and conservation professionals joined representatives of Homeplace on Green River at the Taylor County historic farm in late May to learn more about what makes up a healthy soil system. Participants learned how to preserve and even improve our priceless soils, increase farm productivity, and protect the natural world at the same time. The meeting was a cooperative effort between the Homeplace on Green River, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).
John Graham (the Soil Health Specialist for NRCS in Kentucky) talked about the science behind soil health. Graham showed how a growing body of evidence clearly demonstrates that some traditional practices like deep tillage and lack of carefully planned cover crops can destroy essential soil biology in a relatively short period of time. He also presented several excellent case studies of innovative farm producers who have "cracked the soil health code" and are now not only preserving the soil they have, they are improving the characteristics of their farm soils while producing good crop yields at the same time. As Graham explained, these farmers have learned that the secret to soil health lies in biology, not chemistry. By re-establishing and or enhancing the biological processes in cropland soils, farmers can in most cases over time, reduce the amount of chemicals and fertilizers they are currently applying and at the same time increase profits.
After Mr. Graham's presentation, the group walked out into a planting of cereal rye. Planted in November 2014 as a cool season cover crop to help protect and nourish the soil's biological processes during the harsh winter months, the rye also adding organic matter to the soil, reduced erosion and the leaching of valuable nutrients.
Several local farm producers showed a keen interest in improving their own soils and wanted to learn more about cover crop seeding mixtures, the science involved and how best to begin soil health cover crop programs on their own croplands.
During the meeting, Billy Fudge, member of the Homeplace board of directors, and Mike Hensley, Green River Project Director for The Nature Conservancy, spoke about the partnership between the Homeplace and TNC, and how it is in everyone's mutual interests to protect the health of our soils.
A more complete regional field day is being planned and will be held at the Homeplace in August. Homeplace will continue to sponsor these important discussions about healthy soils, and how farm
Producers in our area can learn more about Soil Health Cover Crops and how best to utilize them in their row crop operations.
Homeplace on Green River is designated by the Commonwealth as "Kentucky's Outdoor Classroom" and is a joint effort of Adair, Green and Taylor counties. The 200 year old farm is being restored by the three counties.
This story was posted on 2015-05-31 07:04:13
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