Northern New York Agricultural Development Program Press Releases

August 22, 2006

Contact: Anita Deming, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County, 518-962-4810 x409

Soil Health Workshop September 13 at Baker Research Farm

Soil health is the topic for farmers and gardeners on Wednesday, September 13, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Cornell E. V. Baker Research Farm in Willsboro. Cornell University researchers including Harold van Es, George Abawi, David Wolfe, Robert Schindelbeck, and John Idowu have been working for four years with funding in part from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program to develop an affordable test to measure soil health.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County Executive Director Anita Deming, says, �The new test will be an important addition to the conventional test that focuses only on soil chemistry.�

The research team has analyzed more than 700 soil samples from across New York State. Samples from research farms helped established useful indicators from long-term soil management under controlled conditions. Samples from commercial farms and growers� on-farm experiments have helped document soil health improvement from alternative management practices, and have provided a perspective on soil health under �real world� farming conditions.

Soil health experiments included testing under different tillage systems, cover crops and rotations. For example, a rotation experiment was conducted on loamy sand and sandy clay soils comparing corn after eight years of orchard grass with continuous corn at the Cornell E.V. Baker Research Farm at Willsboro. In general, soil health indicators were better for the corn after grass, supporting the notion that rotation of corn with sod crops results in better soil health.

At the September 13 workshop, the soil health team members will discuss the test that allows farmers, consultants and gardeners to monitor the benefits of new soil and crop management technology and target soil improvement and better management practices. To pre-register for the program, call Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County at 518-962-4810 x409.

For more information on Soil Health research in NNY, click here