DANVILLE, Pa. — Are you a farmer or a farm landowner who is interested in improving the health of the soils on your farm and potentially reducing your input costs and providing more stable yields? Or maybe you are just interested in Soil Health and how it can benefit water quality? Cover crops, no-till, field borders, pollinator habit, herbicide resistant weed management, cover crop rolling, and planting green can all be part of a soil health system to benefit your farm. Soil health can benefit the farmer and the landowner!
Please join us on March 19th at the Pine Barn Inn in Danville and learn more about how to improve soil health on your farm!
A fundamental shift is occurring in agriculture, in Pennsylvania and nationally, as producers adopt management practices to improve soil health. To further these efforts, the 6th annual Connecting Soils & Profits: Tools for Improving Soil Health meetings will be held Thursday, March 19, from 8:30 am to 4 pm at Pine Barn Inn, Danville. The meetings are co-hosted by the Columbia Conservation District and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offices.
The last several crop years have been really challenging for farmers, due to above average rainfall. Wet soils delayed planting and harvests. “One of the many benefits to improving soil health is better water infiltration which allows for more timely planting conditions” says Kris Ribble, NRCS District Conservationist, Bloomsburg, PA. Ribble also explains that “healthy soils have better soil structure which can more easily support heavy equipment and should result in less rutting and soil compaction.” When you utilize covers and “planting green” it can help remove water from the soil in the spring at planting time and conserve water in the soil during the summer when the crops needs it for making yield.
The annual meetings have brought nationally known speakers and farmers to the area to provide practical ideas in soil health management systems that can increase the profitability of crop and livestock producers alike. This year’s keynote speakers are Rick Clark is a Williamsport, Indiana farmer. He is a fifth-generation farmer. To quote the National No-Till Farmer, “To Rick Clark, ‘Farming Green’ is a systematic approach to regenerative soil health and that’s what he brings to the 7,000 acres he manages at both Clark Land & Cattle and for his family. He strives to be the best steward of the land. A main component of his no-till system is maximizing cover crop performance and planting his cash crops into living covers to build biomass, suppress weeds, recycle nutrients and feed soil microbes.” Rick has been farming for 35 years and has included no-till and cover crops in his system for the last 10 years. He is a Purdue University graduate with an Ag Economics degree.
Also, on the agenda is Russell Hedrick a first-generation farmer who has a dedication to growing some of the finest grain and livestock in his region of the southeast. His exceptional use of new technologies and cover crops led him to being awarded the 2014 North Carolina Innovative Young Farmer of the Year. Russell has been a featured producer in the Farm Press magazine for maximizing his cover crop benefits by mixing species, and national No-till Farmer for integration of cattle onto covers and using the Haney soil test for reducing fertilizer inputs on cash crops. He says his operation has grown through hard work to almost 1000 acres. In 2014 Russell integrated cattle into the operation. He grows warm and cool season cover crops for cattle to graze to utilize every acre and increase the profits for his farm. His operation focuses on maximizing profits and direct consumer marketing for all their products.
The day will conclude with a panel of local farmers who have been implement soil health management systems on their operation and seeing the benefits firsthand. The local famers along with Rick and Russell will participate in a panel discussions and question and answer session to help tie the days information together.
According to Lisa Blazure, Clinton County Conservation District, improving soil health is beneficial for the farmers and the environment. “Healthy soils have higher organic matter, which helps with moisture management. They also cycle more nutrients, thereby requiring less fertilizer and saving the farmer money. Less water, soil, and nutrients leave farm fields with healthy soils, which results in cleaner local streams and rivers. Improving soil health is a win-win for everyone.”
There is a $26.00 registration fee that includes refreshments, a hot lunch, and conference materials.
For more information or to register for the meeting, please contact Tracey Oman at the Columbia County Conservation District at 570-317-9456 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vendors are also welcome, contact the Conservation District to inquire about opportunities for vendors. If you have not been to this conference before and are thinking about coming, check out the speakers from the last four conferences at the Columbia County Conservation District’s website http://www.columbiaccd.org/soil-health-conference.html under the soil health tab.
–Kris Ribble, Bloomsburg PA NRCS