The Soil Health Partnership announced it is expanding a pilot project to give more farmers access to the soil health network.
As the organization launches phase 2 of its pilot Associate Program, it will invite 75 farmers to enroll in 2019. This will enable more farmers to join SHP in its mission of using science and data to support farmers in adopting agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.
The economic component of soil health has taken on an increasing level of urgency during a difficult farm economy, said Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership.
Joining the Associate Program during the pilot phase will give farmers access to no-cost soil health sampling and results. The program will provide data insights and reports on how making a change, like growing cover crops, impacts their soil.
After enrolling 25 farms in the pilot program in 2018, phase 2 will bring the number of associate sites to 100. The SHP plans a full-scale launch of the Associate Program for 2020, when even more farmers can join.
A less-intensive version of the SHP’s 115 Full Partner sites enrolled in the long-term data project, Associate Program farmers will commit to a 2-year project enrollment. Yearly soil health testing will measure key metrics. Enrolled farmers will choose between the following three treatment options:
· Cover crop vs. no cover crop
· Tillage vs. less intrusive tillage, or no-till
· Nutrient management (comparison of different nutrient sources)
Farmers interested in learning more can visit the Soil Health Partnership website.