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Union County farms benefit from soil health program

Union County farms benefit from soil health program

By Blake Jackson

Over 100 Union County farms received free soil testing, manure analysis, and cover crop planting assistance thanks to the Union County Agricultural Planning and Soil Health Program. This initiative, funded by a state grant, aims to improve local soil health and agricultural practices.

Ten farms participated in a more intensive soil health audit. They received standard tests followed by in-depth Haney tests that measure factors like microbial activity and soil structure. These detailed results offered valuable insights for both the participating farms and the wider agricultural community.

Project coordinator Sadie Borger highlighted the program's goal of reaching as many farmers as possible. The project also focused on data quality. Jeremiah Zimmerman, a project collaborator, used GPS technology to ensure consistent sampling locations, leading to more reliable data.

The analysis provided farmers with personalized recommendations, such as ideal cover crop mixes to enhance soil life. Farmers are showing interest in diversifying cover crops, and seed companies are introducing faster-maturing corn and soybeans to allow for earlier fall planting of cover crops.

The project's findings will be presented at a field day on August 23rd at Stoltzfus Grain in Lewisburg. This event will feature presentations, cover crop mix discussions, and live demonstrations.

The program's efforts contribute to Union County's Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals by promoting conservation practices and improving soil health.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-casarsaguru

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