Tag Archives: soil

“Soil Health Champions” receive conservation awards

Extension Specialist Eric Bendfeldt (left) with Kevin Craun and Ryan Blosser

Extension Specialist Eric Bendfeldt (left) with Kevin Craun and Ryan Blosser

Harrisonburg, December 18, 2017 – Bridgewater brothers Kevin and Steve Craun and Augusta County farmer Ryan Blosser recently received the fourth annual Carl G. Luebben Soil Health and Water Quality Awards for their contributions to conservation in the commonwealth.

Sponsored by Houff Corporation, the award is named for Luebben, a former Houff salesman known for his passion for agronomy, sustainable systems, soil health research, 
and mentorship of conservation professionals.

The Craun brothers are fourth-generation dairymen who operate Hillview Farms, Inc., a 435-acre dairy with 150 milking cows, 150 replacement heifers, and 100 head of beef cattle in the southwestern corner of Rockingham County near Bridgewater, Virginia. They are true “soil health champions” who have a well-established cropping system, including alfalfa in the rotation, and take care to closely balance residue management to build organic matter. Other notable Best Management Practices include no-till planting, cover crops, manure storage, and side-dressing nitrogen. Numerous practices have also been installed on pastures to promote herd health, cow comfort, and forage production.

Kevin and Steve sell their beef and milk through local co-ops, which showcase locally grown food from farmers who cherish the land and its sustainability. They have opened their operation to numerous school groups, production tours, and conservation agencies to provide a closer look at these practices. The brothers also serve on various boards; Kevin is a former Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District director and board chairman.

Ryan Blosser is the owner-operator of the Dancing Star Farm, where he grows high-quality, chemical-free vegetables with limited tillage. Blosser plants highly diverse crops in permanent rows that are tilled while the rest of the soil remains untouched. The residue remaining on his fields increases organic matter, and crop rotation breaks up pest cycles without chemicals. His soil-health-building practices offer added benefits of increasing water-holding capacity and reducing runoff, leaching, and erosion. Blosser also uses a swale system to filter water, leaving it cleaner than when it entered the farm.

Blosser runs a very successful Community Supported Agriculture program on just 1.25 cultivated acres and focuses on giving back to the agricultural community. He is an executive director for Project Grows, a nonprofit group that hosts summer camps and field trips to teach children about gardening while providing food for the community. He is also involved with the Shenandoah Permaculture Institute, which teaches citizens about this form of intensively planned, environmentally restorative agriculture.

The Crauns and Blosser received their awards at the Virginia Farm to Table Conference, hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service at Blue Ridge Community College on Dec. 6, 2018. Carl’s son Dan was on hand to participate in the presentations. Carl Luebben, who died in October 2015, previously served on the Rockingham County Virginia Farm Bureau Board and the Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.

Contact:
Eric Bendfeldt
ebendfel@vt.edu
540-432-6029, ext. 106

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Soil Testing Laboratory helps save money and the environment

For nearly 80 years, the Virginia Tech Soil Testing Laboratory has been providing farmers and homeowners with a wealth of information to help them make the best nutrient management decisions for their properties.

The Soil Testing Laboratory helps clients find the perfect amount and combination of nutrients for their field or lawn by using a system that assesses the types of crops grown, past crop yields, and whether or not the field has a drainage system, among other factors.

If too much of one nutrient is used, the excess can be washed away; if too little is applied, the crops or turf may not grow as well. When a lawn or field is treated correctly, the environment is less likely to experience runoff and people spend less money on fertilizer.

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2015 Virginia Winter Forage Conferences focus on red meat, forages, and human health

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 22, 2014 – The Virginia Forage and Grassland Council and Virginia Cooperative Extension will host the 2015 Winter Forage Conferences in four locations Jan. 20 through 23.

This year’s conferences will provide participants with information and examples of how healthy soils, forages, and ruminants improve human health and well-being. Speakers will illustrate the role of healthy soils as the foundation for a vibrant forage system that supports a ruminant livestock herd supplying high-quality proteins for human nutrition and health.

cow grazing

A beef cow grazing at the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Raphine, Virginia.

The keynote speaker will be Peter Ballerstedt, the forage product manager at Barenbrug USA.

Ballerstedt writes a blog focused on diet, health, and human nutrition called “Grass Based Health.” His areas of expertise include forage production, utilization, and forage-based livestock production systems and their role in human nutrition.

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