To the Editor:
This past year in agriculture has been tough on many farmers, with the commodity prices swinging sporadically and future demand showing unpredictability. However, many farmers are looking for new ways to continue to improve their operations while cutting costs, allowing them to buffer themselves against unfavorable markets. Much of the recent focus has been centered on soil health, which had been somewhat forgotten for several decades since the conventional farming boom in the 1970s. As a result, farmers are now beginning to look more closely at their roots, both literally and historically. Farmers are relearning what goes into making a healthy and nutritious soil with minimum man-made inputs, similar to how our ancestors would have farmed centuries before when there were no synthetic fertilizers and beefed-up genetics. I am excited to see that the Land Stewardship Project is once again hosting local soil building workshops and field events focused on building soil health. After attending last year’s meeting in Plainview, I definitely don’t want local farmers to miss out on this great opportunity to come together and learn from both nearby farmers and soil health experts.
Last spring, for my senior project in college, I conducted a study on how local farmers were using cover crops in their operations. I visited several farmers so that I could learn their techniques and why farms were implementing cover crops. Although the majority of the farms I visited were just beginning to experiment with cover crops in the last year or two, all of them were excited with what they had witnessed so far, and they were even more excited with the role their cover crops would continue to play in improving their farms’ productivity and efficiency.
Although cover crops is only one of the several topics that will be discussed at the LSP meeting on February 15 in Caledonia, it is the one that I am most excited about, because my dad and I are also just beginning to incorporate cover crops into our operation.
Other topics to be discussed at the upcoming meeting include crop rotations, tillage practices, and livestock grazing and the roles they have in building healthy, biologically active soil. The speaker, Dr. Kristine Nichols from the Rodale Institute, is known internationally for her work in soil microbiology and the interactions between no-till, cover crops, and healthy soil. To register, or for more information, call the Land Stewardship Project in Lewiston at 507-523-3366 or go online landstewardshipproject.org. They are accepting RSVP until February 13. I hope to see many there.