soil health

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

Healthy crops come from healthy soil. Soil fertility depends on an incredible diversity and abundance of soil critters, from the microscopic to the flying and creepy crawly. Together these critters cycle nitrogen (N) and many other essential minerals and nutrients, making them available to plants. The complexity of what goes on in healthy soil is truly awe-inspiring.

A key group of organisms that provide the soil with one nutrient that's often in short supply are the N-fixing soil bacteria. And according to a recent study by UK scientists, it turns out these organisms do a better job when they're working on organic farms.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

Farmers are the stewards of the land; sadly, politics often dictate how they farm. In the coming days, Congress will make decisions on funding priorities for 2012, and dramatic cuts to soil conservation programs are being proposed.

We cannot afford to let this happen. Our nation’s ability to produce adequate healthy food, and to protect vital air and water resources, depend on how we treat the soil. Cutting soil conservation programs now will have devastating consequences long into the future. Call your Congressmember today and let them know healthy soil is well worth the modest investment.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

This week, the Administration and Congress are poised to make huge cuts to vital conservation programs that may spell the end of the Farm Bill as we know it. We must oppose this short-sighted lunacy, and the time is now.

Please join the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and PAN as we urge the leader of the Senate Agriculture committee, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), to do everything possible to protect Farm Bill conservation funding. You can email Senator Stabenow even if you're not in Michigan — I did, it's easy. She needs to know that people across the country care about conservation.

Pesticide Action Network's blog
By Pesticide Action Network,

Scientists have found that hot molasses could be key to controlling soil pests, allowing farmers to grow peppers and tomatoes in Florida without using the dangerous fumigant pesticide, methyl bromide. Ending reliance on methyl bromide has been particularly tricky in the sunshine state, where mild winters offer safe harbor for pests and sandy soils can make organic options a challenge. Nonetheless, innovative scientists and farmers are creating ways to grow food without pesticides. The March 2011 edition of Agricultural Research, published by USDA, has the story.

Margaret Reeves's blog
By Margaret Reeves,

Two successful organic producers were among those recently recognized for pest control innovation by California officials. The state's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced recipients of its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovator Awards last month, and among the awardees were Dixon Ridge Farms and Bonterra (Fetzer) Vineyards. I was delighted to see the two award winners featured again last week at the annual EcoFarm conference, a three-day gathering of thousands of organic growers, input providers, processors, distributors, academics, government agencies, non-profit organizations and eaters near Monterey, California.