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If you are looking for grant and loan programs to incubate your local food and farm initiative or enterprise, this graphic from USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food site may be of interest. The color coding refers to the specific USDA agency that manages the grant or loan program (i.e., USDA – Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA – Farm Service Agency, USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service, etc.).
Can Virginia farmers find common ground around the issue of soil health and the management of core principles for better soil function and performance?
Understanding and building your farm’s soil resource is critical for productivity, profitability and sustainability. Of course, soils have inherent and dynamic properties that affect the function and performance of soils. Like a personal bank account, good farmers and producers seek to manage the dynamic processes by making soil health-building deposits and minimizing withdrawals that are soil health-depleting.
At the 2015 Virginia Farm to Table Conference, Ellen Polishuk of Potomac Vegetable Farms shared how she and her colleagues work to grow money and soil with commercial vegetable production. The Common Ground Soil Health profile video below highlights the core principles she uses to build soil health and maintain a positive bank account.
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, and Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education are partnering with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and other organizations and agencies (e.g., Chesapeake Bay Foundation, American Farmland Trust, Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Society, Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and others) as part of a Virginia Soil Health Coalition to promote and educate farmers, growers, landowners and the general public on the foundational principles of soil management in an overarching effort to unlock the secrets in the soil.
Virginia’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has boiled down the core principles of soil health management to four easy to remember phrases!
Keep the soil covered
Minimize soil disturbance
Maximize living roots
Energize with diversity
Soil was definitely meant to be covered.
For more information about soil health and the Virginia Soil Health Coalition, contact your nearest USDA Service Center or local Virginia Cooperative Extension office.
Soil is a foundational resource to farming, conservation and health in the 21st century so let’s not keep the importance of soil health a secret!