Why do you care about your soil and what are you willing to invest in it? As times are changing, our farming practices are changing. This series is to get farmers working together to learn hands-on soil health concepts and identify gaps and limits in resources in our communities. Each evening begins with a discussion from either a panel or a featured speaker. After the speaker, a roundtable discussion will follow using the Strategic Doing method. Participants will engage with the group as the evening continues with question and answer sessions. Join us in our 3-part series titled “Investing in your Soil Success”. The goal is for attendees to attend all three sessions as they build upon each other.
Join us in a soil health series. Investing in your soil is an interactive program where farmers will be completing hands-on soil health topics along with round table discussion after nightly speaker presentations. You won’t want to miss this program. The first evening will consist of local farmers from the area in a panel setting. A special thanks to The Nature Conservancy on co-sponsoring this program. Program open to farmers, consultants, family members, and the general public.
- January 13: Featured Speaker Local Panel Discussion
- February 24: Featured Speaker Jamie Scott
- March 9: Featured Speaker Rick Clark
Location: Paulding County Extension Office, 503 Fairground Drive, Paulding, OH 45879
Cost: No Charge. Light refreshments included in registration.
Registration: Please register by calling the office or via https://investinginsoilhealthseries.eventbrite.com
Contact: Sarah Noggle, (419)399-8225, firstname.lastname@example.org
Session 1 specifically features farmers from NW Ohio in a panel discussion – The strategic doing concept will be introduced and limiting factors in soil success will be identified.
Session 2 features speaker Jamie Scott – Jamie and his father Jim operate JA Scott Farms. Together they grow approximately 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat in Kosciusko County, Indiana. One-hundred percent of those acres are planted using a no-till conservation cropping system that incorporates cover crops every winter. Using those practices, Mr. Scott sees higher yields, richer soil, and improved water holding capacity. “I am encouraged that these practices can remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. We have found that these benefits outweigh the added expense of labor and cover crop seeds.” Once Mr. Scott realized the benefits of no-till and cover crops, he decided to try and spread the word to his fellow farmers. He has turned his passion for conservation into a separate business by starting a turn-key cover crop service called Scott’s Cover Crops. “We serve over 400 farmers in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan, providing cover crop seed for over 100,000 acres and cover crop planting on over 50,000 acres. We constantly try to expand our knowledge and understanding of the benefits and challenges of cover crops, planting a variety of different test plots to calibrate the best seeding rates and mixes.” Through this work, Mr. Scott has found that what is right for soil health and cover crops in his part of the country is not the right prescription everywhere. To address these differences, he encourages producers to work with their local USDA office or soil conservation district to learn about the best way to improve soil health in their area.
Session 3 features speaker Rick Clark – Rick Clark says he learned soil health practices from a neighbor. “We conversed about what he was doing, and when I had the opportunity to have total control of the farm [in 2010], we switched everything to no-till and cover crops,” he says. Clark has also put in place a number of practices aimed at increasing soil health, which he defines simply as “decreasing inputs and increasing yield. If your inputs are going down, and your yields are going up, how can you not be building soil health?” he says. “That is exactly what this farm is doing.”
First, he rotates his crops. In addition to adding nutrients such as nitrogen to the soil, crop rotation interrupts pest and disease cycles, reducing weeds, insects, and the need for chemical pesticides. One-third of Clark’s farm is in a three-year rotation with corn, soybeans, and wheat. Another third is in a four-year crop rotation—corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa—for a dairy that produces milk for Dannon. And the final third is in the transition to organic.
Secondly, Clark practices no-till farming. By not plowing, which disturbs the soil, the farming method reduces soil erosion and sequesters carbon, which mitigates climate change. He has practiced no-till farming with corn for 10 years and soybeans for 15 years.
And finally, Clark has planted diverse “cocktails” of cover crops for the last 10 years. Each fall before the next spring’s planting, he plants a mixture he calls “gunslinger” on his cornfields. The mix includes five crops that each performs a necessary function for soil health: Haywire forage oats build biomass to protect the soil; sorghum-sudangrass promotes the growth of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi; tillage radish helps break up compacted soil; and Austrian winter peas and balansa clover add nitrogen, an essential nutrient. On his soybean fields, he plants cover crops such as cereal rye in the fall before planting soybeans the next spring.