Meeting aims to spread soil knowledge to area farmers

TUSTIN – While most experienced farmers and gardeners know soil is more than just dirt, some do not realize soil health can be the key to successful growth.

To address this topic, the United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation District, along with the Conservation District, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) and the MSU extension are putting on a Soil Health Meeting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 at the Kettunen Center in Tustin. There is no cost to attend and lunch is provided.

The aim of the meeting is to bring farmers together to share ideas, discussing what has worked and what hasn’t when it comes to improving their soil, said Kristen Kiluk, Soil Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“We want to talk about what has been tried and what’s worked in improving the health and quality of their soils in order to help other farmers keep more money in their pockets while also improving long-term soil properties,” Kiluk said.

A panel of local farmers will talk and answer questions about what they’ve been doing for soil health, and there also will be a video presentation on Gabe Brown, a farmer in North Dakota, looking at his successful methods for applying cover crop and tillage in his system.

“We will watch the video with Gabe Brown and talk about how his soil health improvements could apply here in the local area,” Kiluk said.

The meeting will count as MAEAP Phase I Verification credit, as well as for two Restricted Use Pesticides (RUP) credits.

MAEAP is a program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks.

Being MAEAP verified allows farmers to market themselves and their products as environmentally sound to their customers, Kiluk said.

Spreading knowledge and resources is the focus of the event, and Kiluk is looking forward to bringing together local farmers.

“There’s so much local variation in our area,” she said. “This is a great way to talk about what plants do really well in growing in specific places, as well as different techniques and equipment available to possibly share or rent. Getting that information out there and people talking is our main goal.”