U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committee staff learned more about soil health management practices at a Harborview Farms field day.
“This field day was a unique opportunity for legislative staffers to see first-hand the benefits and challenges farmers face adopting soil health practices," said John Mesko, senior director of the Soil Health Partnership. "Farmers across the country invest in these practices because they believe in the indirect and long-term benefits such as healthy soils for their future generations, creating increased land resiliency and knowing they are giving back to the land that sustains us. It is an important story to tell, and we are thrilled to have legislative partners attend these educational events."
Practices that improve soil health are taking on elevated importance as a means to protect topsoil, helping farmers manage extreme weather, increase profitability, protect water quality and sequester carbon.
Harborview Farms owner and operator, Trey Hill, explained the need to improve soil management practices. Hill utilizes cover crops, roller-crimper, and no-till, soil health management practices that have resulted in increased profitability on his Rock Hall, Maryland, farm.
Congressional staffers stepped inside a Soil Pit to witness how diverse cover crop species impact row crop systems. They also learned about some of the challenges facing growers who decide to change their management systems to focus more on soil health. Some of these challenges include changing or upgrading equipment, changing planting and harvesting timelines, adjusting for different pest and weed pressures, and figuring out how to pay for it all.
In addition, Soil Health Partnership Lead Scientist, Maria Bowman, explained the unique role SHP plays in providing technical assistance to farmers like Hill.