The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today co-hosted a field day for U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committee staff at Harborview Farms in Rock Hall, Md. Staffers had the opportunity to learn more about soil health management practices being implemented at Harborview Farms.
“This field day was a unique opportunity for legislative staffers to see first-hand the benefits and challenges farmers face adopting soil health practices. 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,“ John Mesko, senior director of SHP said.
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 with each generation. He discussed the impact of being a pioneer in the industry and how it has affected his farm. Hill utilizes cover crops, roller-crimper, and no-till, soil health management practices that have resulted in increased profitability.
Congressional staffers stepped inside a Soil Pit to witness how diverse cover crop species impact row crop systems. Staffers were able to interact with SHP field managers to understand the lock-step relationship between SHP farmers and field managers. 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.
The field day was held in collaboration with the University of Maryland’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Technology along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory.