Soil Health Champion Network Webinars

Soil Health Champion Network Webinars

Farm Finance and Conservation, Does it Pay?

Alan Grafton, principal of K·Coe Isom, hosts this webinar, where three growers let us dig into their books.  We will take a look at several aspects of conservation, and how they can impact the bottom line. These practices not only involve the grower, but some of their key partners in the value chain. This study resulted in a report released Sept. 2018, entitled “How on-farm conservation can generate financial value”.

Archived Webinars

Nutrient Cycling and Soil Health

This presentation reviews nutrient cycling and discusses how soil health is carbon-centric. This webinar covers the carbon cycle and carbon nitrogen ratios. Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts Soil Health Specialist Mike Hubbs covers Haney and PLFA tests as tools to assess soil health. Hubbs also explains why soil test factors are important to functioning soils.

Integrating Sociology with Soil Health Management: How to improve farmer outreach

Changing behavior is hard. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as relaying data and facts. Good news is there are simple tactics you can use to reach beyond innovators and “the choir”. This presentation will provide strategies based on real world examples and how to relate them to your work.

Speaker: Jessica Espenshade, coordinator for the National Agriculture Program at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Using Soil Health Principles to Improve Lake Erie Water Quality
James J. Hoorman, NRCS Soil Health Specialist

Agricultural tillage has contributed to a broken Carbon-Nitrogen-Phosphorus (C-N-P) cycle and a damaged water cycle. Tillage is a destructive practice that burns up SOM, decreases effective nutrient recycling, and reduces aggregate stability and water infiltration. The NRCS Soil Health Division is promoting four major core soil health principles: 1) Maximize surface cover 2) Minimize soil disturbance, 3) Maximize live roots, and 4) Increase Biodiversity. As an example, the four core soil health principles will be used to address the Lake Erie P issue to demonstrate how to restore the C-N-P and water cycles, restore our soils, and improve Lake Erie water quality.

Jim Hoorman is the new NRCS Soil Health Specialist for Ohio and Michigan. Jim was an assistant professor and extension educator for Ohio State University Extension for 25 years specializing in soil health, cover crops, nutrient recycling and water quality. Jim has worked with cover crops and no-till for over 15 years promoting soil health principles throughout the USA and the world.

Understanding Soil Health in Organic Production Systems
Dr. Erin Silva from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Soil health and soil stewardship have comprised the foundation of organic agriculture since its inception. While some aspects of organic management create challenges in the maintenance of soil health, other management principles integrated into the National Organic Standards help to create an environment optimizing the physical, chemical and biological health of the soil. This presentation will summarize an overview of the data related to soil health indicators in organic systems, as well as identify practices that help build soil health while farming organically.

#WEDIGHEALTHYSOILS: Putting on Successful Soil Health Events in Your District

Learn how the Sussex Conservation District (SCD) spearheaded the formation of the Delaware Soil Health Partnership, a collaborative effort to offer workshops and field days throughout the year to help farmers develop their own farm-specific strategies. SCD shares what has worked for their district and their farmers, including event logistics, choosing topics and speakers, finding funding, and working with multiple organizations. As a result of these efforts, 85 percent of farmers surveyed at recent soil health outreach events in Delaware say that they have made management changes to improve their soil health! Want a preview? Look for the hashtag #wedighealthysoils on Facebook. View this document to review the Delaware Soil Health Checklist and this document to review the Delaware Soil Health Evaluation Form.

Grazing Cover Crops

Noble Research Institute Soils and Crops Consultant Jim Johnson discusses definitions of cover crops, keys to using cover crops for grazing, and how to create a cover crop mix for grazing. Johnson also shares some experiences of producers who have been grazing cover crops in the Southern Great Plains and how many of their principles can be applied universally.

“Carbonomics” – The Wonderful Economy Under Our Feet

Learn from Green Cover Seed Founder and NACD Soil Health Champion from Nebraska Keith Berns about the wonderfully complex economy that plants, soils and biology engage in every day. Utilizing carbon as the currency, learn how plants interact with soil microorganisms to “buy” and “sell” services and nutrients and learn how to wean your farm off of agricultural welfare!

Linking Soil Biology to Soil Health

Presented by USDA NRCS West Regional Soil Health Team Leader Jennifer Moore-Kucera. Soil microbes play a direct role in driving multiple soil chemical and physical processes important for overall ecosystem function, but also have direct and indirect effects on plant productivity and quality.  Thus, soil conservation and regeneration should focus not only plant nutrient status and erosion control but also on the status of the soil biological community, its function and overall soil health. The goals of this presentation are: 1) to highlight how soil organisms are involved in all aspects of soil function important for agriculture; 2) introduce biological ‘hot spots’ where soil life is active and the key players associated with these hot spots; and 3) how to maximize these biological hot spots through management practices that follow the four soil health principles. By shifting our view of soils from an inert growing material to a biologically diverse and active ecosystem, we can help create more sustainable farms, ranches and forests to provide the food and fiber for our rapidly growing population while protecting land, air and water resources for future generations.

Connecting Soil Health and Beneficial Invertebrates Beneath the Soil

Join the Xerces Society to learn about the diversity of invertebrate organisms that live beneath the soil surface and the important roles these organisms play in soil health. They will also overview farm and land management practices (e.g. reduced tillage, cover cropping, beetle banks, permanent plantings, etc.) that support these important invertebrates.

Soil Health in Rangeland and Perennial Pasture Systems

Presented by Jeff Goodwin, Pasture and Range Consultant for the Noble Research Institute.

Beneficial Insects and Soil Health: Promoting Beneficial Insects for Pest Management

Presented by Thelma Heidel-Baker, Ph.D, the Conservation Biocontrol Specialist for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Conservation Program Co-Director for the Xerces Society; a Partner Biologist and Pollinator Conservation Specialist with the USDA NRCS West National Technology Support Center in Portland, Oregon.

This webinar gives an overview of how practices that benefit soil health (e.g. cover cropping, field borders and other permanent plantings, reduced tillage, etc.) also benefit the insect/invertebrates that provide pest management services.

Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool (RSET)

Through RSET, NRCS has integrated the best attributes of many of its resource evaluation tools into one modern way of planning. RSET gives producers a holistic look at their agricultural operation’s current management and conservation activities by comparing an operation’s attributes and activities to stewardship benchmarks for five natural resource concerns: soil management, water quality, water quantity, air quality and wildlife habitat. Then, RSET provides the results of the evaluation in an easy-to-read bar graph that shows how a producer’s management decisions affect the natural resources under his or her care. Click here to access a special edition of the Soil Health Champions Network bulletin on RSET.

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