Soil Health Academy Workshop
Last week a few members of the Prairie Creek Seed attended a Soil Health Academy workshop centered around increasing profitability through regenerative agriculture, here are some of their thoughts on the event!
The workshop took place in Hays, Kansas. Topics covered included soil health, cover crops, managing the farm as an ecosystem, as well as adaptive grazing. The entire event was filled with questions and answers about all related topics and specific scenarios that attending producers have encountered. The group also traveled to a local farmer’s field to look at his cover crop stand and analyze the benefits and possibilities.
One of the more all encompassing topic discussed was the 6 Principles of Soil Health which are as follows:
- Know your context – Consider your farm’s specific environment and goals when working to improve soil health. This includes choosing the correct cash crops and management for your area as well as picking a cover crop that supports your resource concerns.
- Minimize disturbance – Utilize chemical and mechanical disturbance wisely as tools in your tool belt. As your soil health improves, the use of these can lessen over time.
- Cover and build soil armor – Having something on the soil’s surface to serve as a “skin” will be drastically beneficial to soil moisture and biology.
- Diversity – Looking at your farm as an ecosystem requires diversity to be incorporated to your rotation, pasture stand, or cover crop blend.
- Keep living roots in the soil – These will feed your underground livestock who will make nutrients available to your plants as well as improve soil structure over time.
- Incorporate livestock – Grazing any kind of livestock throughout your operation can be a quantum leap in your soil health.
Those principles were expounded upon in many different ways like lessons on what soil biology is capable of as far as making nutrients available. This was the section of the event that stood out the most to me (Amanda). There is always more to learn about the life within the soil. The beauty of is it the more you have a healthy, functioning soil that is making nutrients available, the less inputs your farm will eventually need (saving $$$). A healthy soil also lends itself to healthier plants that can have less disease and pest issues.
After the event Kyle said “the Soil Health Academy is a road map to understanding, enhancing and monitoring soil life and productivity.” Dawn’s response to the event was “I love how Understanding Ag looks at the big picture. Soil health, the plant’s health, our livestock’s health and our own health - they’re all tied together. We can have an impact on all of these things simply by changing some of our practices.”
This is just a snippit of information about the event because one post cannot fit it all. There will be more to come with related topics on soil health. If you ever get a chance to attend an event like this near you, we say go for it!