Articles, Blog

The Science of Soil Health: Without Carrot or Stick


Planting cover crops enhances the soil’s
ability to function as a nutrient recycler. Penn State’s Dr. Sjoerd Dulker talks about
how dairy farmers in his state are using cover crops to improve their businesses without
regulations or subsidies. In my work I have concentrated on helping
farmers adopt no tillage systems, diversify their crop rotations and also to fill any
fallow periods in the crop rotation with living vegetation, so that our principles, our guiding
philosophy is basically to have a living vegetation and living root systems in the soil 365 days
a year so I have a project that is actually called without carrot or stick because we
are trying to stimulate the farmers to adopt cover crops without a carrot or subsidies
without a stick of regulations. Usually we have 10 dairy farmers all over Pennsylvania
and this is all focused on cover crops at the corn silage. There is a good window for
planting the cover crops and there is a good also opportunity for using the cover crops
for forage. Instead of them buying feed from outside they are cycling more nutrients on
their own farms. Its going through the animal, they are producing some products, producing
manure, the manure goes back on the field, if we can produce more feed on our own farms
and cycle more nutrients on our own farms it is very beneficial. Yea that is very satisfying, we have already
seen an enormous increase in the adoption of no tillage but now we want to really emphasize
as part of that no till system we need to fill all those fallow periods with living
crops, and so the cover crops are a big part of them and we see that now our farmers are
actually starting to use those practices so we think it will be very beneficial for soil
quality, for nutrient management, nutrient cycling and the farmers are intensifying the
production so we hope they can produce more nutrients on their own farms to cycle more
nutrients from their own farms.

One Comment

  1. Geoff Davies Author

    We applaud the Brown Revolution and your efforts to bring back the soil. The National Soil Project here at Northeastern University is for the first time measuring the total and sequestered organic matter in organic farm top soils from all 50 US states to compare with data for 1000+ conventional samples already measured. All we need is 2 oz of as many air-dried soil samples you care to send. The analysis is free of charge. We send the results to the donor and enter them in a new anonymous national database.
    Tell your friends! The Sample Reply Form is at our website www.neu.edu/hagroup with further details. Everyone: thanks for what you’re doing for the Brown Revolution and all the best!
    Geoff and Elham
    NSP Directors

    Reply

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