200 and Counting…

The NACD Soil Health Champions Network has grown beyond 200 members! Congratulations on being a member of this growing and dynamic group of folks who share a passion for soil health. While there is not a set goal for the number of members we have in our network, we want to recruit members from every part of the country. We are not only representing the diversity of landowners and operators, we are showcasing soil health is not one-size-fits-all. We are missing champions from Arizona, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming and all of the U.S. territories.

Please contact Beth Mason, beth-mason@nacdnet.org, 317-946-4463, with any questions on network membership.

Soil Health Resources

NACD Soil Health Webinars: Your Tool for Outreach

With the establishment of the NACD Soil Health Champions Network, NACD started conducting monthly webinars this past fall to assist in further education and outreach. Each month, topics include various components of soil health such as exploring the soil ecosystem of beneficial insects and invertebrates, nutrient management and soil biology, companion and cover crops, the incorporation and impacts of grazing, as well as current and on-going research. Speakers include NACD Soil Health Champions and experts in cooperating organizations and members of the USDA NRCS Soil Health Specialists Team. While the live webinars are promoted within the network, each webinar is recorded and available online for the general public to utilize as a way to further soil health education and encourage more acres to be managed for soil health. 

To view the soil health webinars to date, please be sure to visit the NACD Soil Health Champions Network webpage and contact Beth Mason with any suggested topics and speakers for future webinars.

ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Program

Be sure to visit the ATTRA website for some great resources on soil health. ATTRA is a program developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) which is a non-profit organization established in 1976. Some of their resources are available online for free, while others are available for purchase.

The target audience for their resources includes farmers, ranchers, market gardeners, Extension agents, researchers, educators, farm organizations, and others involved in agriculture. Topics include:

  • What is Sustainable Agriculture?

  • Urban Agriculture

  • Energy Alternatives

  • Beginning Farmers

  • Field Crops

  • Horticultural Crops

  • Livestock & Pasture

  • Local Food Systems

  • Marketing, Business & Risk Management

  • Organic Farming

  • Pest Management

  • Soils & Compost

  • Water Management

  • Other Resources

ATTRA has multiple newsletters you can subscribe to for free. “The Weekly Harvest” is published every Wednesday – a web digest of sustainable agriculture news, resources, events and funding opportunities. “The Dirt News” is a collection of newsletters focused on specific regions to spotlight local staff work and regional agriculture issues.

Our Farms, Our Future Podcast Series: Voices in Sustainable Agriculture

From coast to coast, a diverse community of farmers, ranchers, scientists and educators are working to shape a sustainable future for our food system. Listen to the new Our Farms, Our Future podcast series and join this community for intimate conversations about the state of agriculture, how we got here and where we’re headed.

Episode 1 was released on Monday, April 9 and features Missouri farmers and neighbors Emily Wright and Dan Kuebler. They touch on what motivates them to be farmers and discuss how to build resilient farming systems, the ways local food systems can foster community, and offer advice to beginning farmers.

“One of the things I love most about farming is the learning curve,” Wright said. “It’s a complex ecological system and you can never account for all the variables that are part of that system. So really the learning curve never drops off, and for me there’s never a dull moment.”

The Our Farms, Our Future podcast series will feature a new episode every two weeks for up to 25 weeks. It will bring together a wide variety of farmers, ranchers and other folks interested in the sustainable agriculture community to discuss such topics as federal policy, soil health, the role of business in sustainable food systems, water issues, climate challenges, women in agriculture, issues and opportunities for minorities and much more.

Episode 2 will feature Greg Judy, a veteran pasture-based livestock farmer, and Adam Saunders, founder of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture in Columbia, Mo.

You can follow this series at www.sare.org/OFOFpodcast or by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.

Recap: The National Conference on Cover Crops & Soil Health

This past December, the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) held the second National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health in Indianapolis. There was a great variety of sessions and many opportunities to network with other folks interested in cover crops and soil health. A small group of the NACD Soil Health Champions Network met for dinner the night before the conference, providing an opportunity for one-on-one conversations in a relaxed atmosphere.

Some Soil Health Champions attended the conference as participants, exhibitors, guest presenters and panelists. Beth Mason represented NACD as an exhibitor and shared information about the NACD Soil Health Champions Network and the Soil Health Case Studies NACD conducted with Datu Research to conference attendees.

If you missed the conference or even if you attended and wanted to go back and see some of the presentations, the SWCS has recently posted those videos online along with PDFs of the PowerPoint presentations. See if you can spot some familiar faces in the lineup!

Soil Health PSAs in Texas

The Southern Plains Climate Hub has been producing a series of radio public service announcements for soil health, in partnership with the Redlands Community College and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). We introduced this project in Oct. through a blog post, but since then, they’ve produced three additional PSA's from Texas producers.

Kenneth McAlister grows cotton, corn, milo, canola, wheat, sesame, peanuts and soybeans near the Red River in Wichita County, Texas. He has been no-tilling his land since 2005 and has been utilizing cover crops for the last four years. Kenneth is also an NACD Soil Health Champion!

Scott Carpenter is a conservation district director and wheat producer from Nocona, Texas. He utilizes cover crops and no-till on his land to hold on to more water and reduce erosion on his land.

Glen Lyon, a cotton, peanut, corn and wheat producer from Morton, Texas, rotates crops on his 7,500 acre farm to reduce erosion and increase the water holding capacity of the soil.

Do you have any outreach tools you’d like to share with others in the network? Be sure to send your ideas, programs and projects to Beth Mason at beth-mason@nacdnet.org so we can share your efforts and further your message.

Upcoming Events:

July 10 – 11, 2018

The 11th annual Conservation in Action Tour, hosted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), will take place near the country’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay, in Annapolis, Md. on July 10 and 11. The tour will give attendees a front row view of how the area is leading the way in innovative conservation to improve water quality. The tour will also showcase the conservation practices that farmers have implemented to improve our environment both at the local level and downstream.

July 29 – Aug. 1, 2018

The research to be shared and stories to be told from across the nation fit right into this location where conservation spans across various resource concerns, cultures and landscapes. In addition to learning about some of the management challenges and partnership opportunities that face ecosystems worldwide, participants will experience the vibrant culture of New Mexico through the Local Forum and Flavor event, witness conservation efforts first-hand through tours, and hear from leading speakers in the conservation field. Specialty tracks that will focus on rangeland and forest restoration as well as the use of technology to advance conservation will also be offered at this year’s conference. Collectively, all of these areas of focus will provide a forum for conservation professionals from around the world to come together to discuss successes and challenges, combat shared obstacles, and accelerate conservation efforts.

Aug. 3 – 8, 2018

NACD will hold the Summer Conservation Forum and Tour in conjunction with the NACD Southeast Region Meeting in Williamsburg, Va., Aug. 3 – 8. Currently the program agenda is under development and registration is not available yet, but by visiting the link above, you can view the latest draft agenda and information on the location. If time allows in the schedule, we will try to get the Network members together informally for a dinner, whether in the hotel or within walking distance, offering you a time to network and get together with like-minded producers/landowners and operators. Stay tuned for more information!

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