Corn growers and environmental advocate find ways to work together

In Delta Farm Press

The idea that the National Corn Growers Association would fall in line with the Environmental Defense Fund views seems far-fetched. However, when it comes to soil health, Chris Novak says the two organizations have a common purpose.

Novak, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, says the time has come for farmers and ranchers to have open dialogues with environmental advocates regarding climate change, soil health and sustainability. “We can fight things out in the courts, we can fight things out in Congress — or we can buckle down, sit down at the table together and talk together about the opportunity for voluntary solution, and we can make real progress for our land and farms at the same time,” he says. Continue reading

Soil health is the key to good spinach plants

in Morning Ag Clips

Soils keep plants healthy by providing plants with water, helpful minerals, and microbes, among other benefits. But what if the soil also contains toxic elements?

In areas like Salinas Valley, California, the soils are naturally rich in the element cadmium. Leafy vegetables grown in these soils can take up the cadmium and become harmful to humans. What to do? The solution goes back to the soil. Adrian Paul, a former researcher now working in the Sustainable Mineral Institute in Brisbane, Australia, is working to find which soil additives work best. Continue reading

New technology helps analyze soil

In Morning Ag Clips

Farmers and gardeners know their soil texture can make a big difference in their success. Different plants have different needs for water, nutrients, and air. When they grow in soil that has the right texture, it is easier to deliver the right amount of water, fertilizer, or pesticide to the plants. Then they grow better.

Traditional ways of analyzing soil texture are slow. Danish researchers have shown a new, high-tech method that is fast, cost-effective, and portable. This technique could make it much easier to understand the soil texture of a particular area–or even large areas across the globe. Continue reading

Grazing improves soil health, study finds

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Dr. Richard Teague might be considered a cowboy of a different kind. He’s not rounding up stray cattle, but rather wrangling the best management practices on ranches to help the cattle and their owners.

Teague, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research ecologist at Vernon, grew up on a farm and knows firsthand there are some unintended consequences from traditional long-standing agricultural practices that might not readily be seen. Continue reading

Understanding, Building, & Maintaining Soil Health – workshop

Description:

This workshop for farmers and home gardeners will cover the basics of soil health, including SC Soils 101, soil sampling techniques, interpreting soil test results, and using cover crops to improve soil health in both home gardens and commercial vegetable operations. We will also tour City Roots Farm and learn about their soil building practices.

Thursday, June 1st
9AM – 2:30PM
Continue reading

Saving Costs with Cover Crops

In ARS News

Cotton farmers in Alabama who use cover crops have a new, cost-cutting option. They can kill their cover crops and plant their cotton in the same pass through a field, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

Cover crops are gaining in popularity because they suppress weeds and help retain moisture and nutrients. Farmers typically plant cover crops in the fall and kill them in the spring by flattening them with a roller, spraying them with herbicides, or both. After killing the cover crop, growers plant a cash crop in the same field. That usually requires two passes of a tractor: one to kill the cover crop and another a few weeks later to plant the cash crop. Continue reading

NC State University leading national initiative on cover crops

In Southeast Farm Press

Scientists from North Carolina State University are joining with others across the country to promote soil health by developing and helping farmers adopt new cover crops.

Made possible by a $2.2 million grant from Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, the new $6.6 million research initiative aims to “to get new cover crop solutions into the hands of those who use them or will be using them,” according to Twain Butler, a research agronomist with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation who is leading the project. Continue reading