USDA and MU Extension bring country wide forum on cover crops and soil health

Monday, February 24, 2014

The USDAs Natural Resources Conservation Service joined University of Missouri Extension to sponsor and present forum on cover crops and soil health across the country on Tuesday, Feb. 18. There were nine locations throughout Missouri.

Facilitators at each location presented a streaming teleconference in Omaha, Neb. and was also sponsored by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Krysta Harden, USDA Deputy Secretary, said it is important to improve and ensure soil health.

"Improving soil health will make farms and ranchers sustain and recover from all conditions," she said. "Stop treating soil like dirt, start treating it like our life depends on it."

Cover crops are grown and then incorporated into the soil to improve it and retain moisture.

Advocacy will be a big step in increasing support for cover crops, Buffett said. Buffett is a farmer and chairman of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Gabe Brown, a North Dakota farmer, said it's about the system you use. He cut back on the use of chemicals and reported improved soil health and greater yields.

The value of a rich soil, coupled with the sustaining value of cover crops aids agriculture for the better. It is very important to check the health of your soil and provide the right nutrients in order to better complement it with the right cover crop, according to information provided by a panel of farmers at the teleconference.

For more information on the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, log on to www.thehowardgbuffettfoundation.org. To learn more about soil health, log on to www.nrcs.usda.gov.

Contact Kelly Melies at kmelies@marshallnews.com