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
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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

Making Cover Crops Work in No-Till Vegetable Production – workshop in South Carolina

Join our cover crop specialists for a practical look at using cover crops for no-till production. We’ll start in the classroom for an update on our USDA cover crop research project, and a discussion on nuts and bolts information like varieties, seeding methods, seeding rates, termination methods, planting vegetables into residue, and lessons learned related to all those things. Then we’ll head to the field (Student Organic Farm in Clemson and CREC Research Farm in Charleston) to look at plots, cover crop termination, and depending on timing we could observe planting vegetables into residue. We’ll finish with lunch and Q&A. We’ll also have some print resources available.  Each participant will receive a copy of the Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education Program’s publication “Managing Cover Crops Profitably”. Continue reading

Cover Crops Work? See them working in pictures

All across the United States, farmers are increasingly using cover crops to suppress weeds, conserve soil and control pests and diseases. But agricultural educators know that savvy farmers are reluctant about risk and often want to see cover crops in action before making significant change. SARE’s Library of Cover Crop and Soil Health Images is now available to help educators show producers how cover crops can work on their farms.

The collection includes over 1,500 photos and illustrations organized into 10 galleries. A soil health gallery features high-resolution illustrations compiled in a set of 20 PowerPoint slides for use in presentations.  Continue reading

Webinar: Pest Management from an Ecological Framework

What will you learn?

This webinar will focus on ecological management of agricultural pests (insects and slugs); and, it will emphasize the importance of pairing soil health practices with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to ensure that gains in soil health are not degraded by unnecessary pesticide use. Learn more… Continue reading