Soil Health

In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Sustainable Chesapeake works  collaboratively with partners to expand the adoption of soil health practices. Regenerative management practices that improve soil health offer multiple benefits to farmers including improved water quality, weed suppression and drought resilience. Properly managed, soil can act like a sponge, absorbing water and nutrients and retaining them for use by crops. Healthy soils also retain more carbon, positioning farmers to play a vital role in climate change mitigation.

 

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Harvesting no-till corn.

Testing Innovative Technologies

Sustainable Chesapeake secured funding from the USDA Conservation Innovation Grant Program to help Cedar Plains Farms LLC, located on Virginia’s Northern Neck, to test a commercial-scale USDA roller/crimper. The roller-crimper flattens cover crops that farmers plant in the fall to capture excess nitrogen and protect the soil from erosion.

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Rolling hairy vetch cover crop with the USDA ARS Kornecki roller/crimper. Photo courtesy of Robb Hinton, Cedar Plains Farm LL

The rolled and crimped cover crop creates a mulch into which Rolling hairy vetch cover crop with the USDA ARS Kornecki roller/crimper. Photo courtesy of Robb Hinton, Cedar Plains Farm LLC.corn and soybeans can be planted. The cover crop mulch prevents weeds and keeps the soil cool and moist during the hot summer.

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Corn planted into rolled vetch. Photo courtesy of Robb Hinton, Cedar Family Farms LLC.

Interested in learning more about why soil health matters and how farmers are improving the health of their soil? Check out the following videos featuring farmers explaining the benefits for their farm operations and water quality:

Planting Green with Robb Hinton: Testing the Kornecki Cover Crop Roller
Understanding Soil Health with Little Red Hen Farm

Jim Harbach with Schrack Farms in Clinton County, PA: Chesapeake Climate: Regenerative Farming from Chesapeake Bay Program on Vimeo.