Farmer-to-Farmer Soil Health Series

You’ve seen rows of green sprouting up in your neighbors’ fields over the winter, you’ve heard other farmers talking about improved soil health from their cover crops, and you’ve watched as your their fields have withstood droughts and floods– what are they doing differently? Check out the Farmer-to-Farmer Soil Health Series and learn from 7 different successful farmers across Illinois the secrets to improving soil health, reducing chemical dependence, and managing risk for long-term financial and environmental success!

The Farmer-to-Farmer Video Series features 12 videos on topics ranging from cover crops, soil biodiversity, rotational grazing, protecting against nutrient runoff, and more. It’s never been easier to learn the secrets to soil health from the comfort of your home.  In addition, every farmer and soil health speaker featured has agreed to provide their contact information, so if you’ve got additional questions, call them up! We’re building a network of farmers who care about the land and about each other. Will you join us?

Check out the Video Series below!

1a. Introduction

1. Why focus on Soil Health

Barry Fisher, Midwest Leader at the National Soil Health Division with NRCS, explains why we need to regenerate the living function of our soil health. Barry brakes down step by step how understanding the problems that come from poor soil health will motivate us to want to become better managers of the soil we farm far into each new generation of farmers. Also, on this episode, Southern Illinois farmer Junior Upton asks why cover crops increase yields on his farm.

2. Effects of Water on Soil in Different Farming Systems, Table top Demonstrations:

From the Slate test to the Rain Simulator, Demonstrations show a visual of why different cropping systems can cause changes in soil health.

3. Principles of Soil Health:

Barry Fisher breaks down soil health into four key soil health principles, Providing Continuous Living Cover, Maximizing Biodiversity, Minimizing Disturbances, and Maximizing Soil Cover.

4. Managing Cover Crops as a Nutrient Management Tool:

Dr. Joel Gruver with Western Illinois University Sustainable Agriculture Department, explains how Midwest farmers are using different cover crop types and equipment in different management situations to maximize the efficiency of nutrients on different cropping systems.

5. A Balanced Web of Soil Organisms that Maintains Soil Health:

Doug Peterson, Midwest Soil Health Specialist with NRCS, explains the diversity in soil organisms and their function in the management. Doug also explains why reduce tillage, extending crop rotations and better pesticide management helps with that diversity. Also, on this episode is a visit to the Toland Cattle farm in Western Illinois to look a pasture soil health management.

6. Cover Cropping with Cattle:

West Central Illinois long time cover crop farmer Chris Smith explains how cattle grazing on cover crops helps manage the cover cropping system.

7. The Keystone Species in your MicroHerd:

Dr. Wendy Taheri at Terra Nimbus LLC takes Soil Health Management to the advanced level. Wendy explains why Arbuscular Mycorrhiza Fungi, natures recycler of nutrients in natural ecosystems are a key indicator that your soil is or is not healthy. Organisms like Mycorrhiza Fungi do so much to improve efficiency in the soil.

8. Farmer’s Perspective on the Importance of Soil Health Trainings:

Central Illinois Farmer, Jack Erisman, shares his perspective on how a better understanding of soil health adds to his decision-making skills in adopting changes to his 2,000plus organic grain, forage, and cattle operation. Jack is seen as a pioneer in sustainable farming by many of his peers.

9. Biodiversity in the Soil is Good, But Why:

Wendy Taheri, explains the many the many functions of the soils organisms and how they promote a dynamic functional soil ecosystem that maintains soil health.  Wendy also explains how to manage this type of diversified cropping system.

10. Illinois Stewardship Alliance and the Soil Health Series:

Conservationist and Sustainable Agriculture Educator, Woody Woodruff, explains the role these soil health training videos play in changing the perspective of a culture of modern farmers on how a soil’s health can affect human health.

11. Changes in Soil and Water Management:

Woody explains the role of growth in an individual’s experiences will play in developing an understanding on how to adapt effective changes that protect our non- renewable natural resources soil and water.