Tag: Soil

A Reverence for Soil

How Two No-Till Farms Cultivate Soil Health By Holli Cederholm Farmers Yoko Takemura and Alex Carpenter of Assawaga Farm in Putnam, Connecticut, have built their entire farm system with the goal of minimizing soil disturbance. “When we pull root crops, those are coming out of the soil,” said Carpenter. “That’s probably the most destructive act.”

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The Roots of Soil Health in Organic Farming

By Will Brinton One hears the phrase “soil health” so often these days it seems to be reaching a crescendo. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formed an entire Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) division for it. Around the same time, the Soil Health Institute (SHI) was formed, including sponsorship by USDA, agribusiness and

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Planning a Resilient Farm Layout at Evening Song Farm

By Sonja Heyck-Merlin Evening Song Farm, owned by Ryan and Kara Fitzbeauchamp and certified organic by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, offered a virtual farm tour during MOFGA’s 2020 Farmer to Farmer Conference. Located in Cuttingsville, Vermont, 11 miles southeast of Rutland, the 100-acre property is perched at 1,200 feet on a hillside

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Humus is Dead (Long Live Humus)

A discussion on soil organic matter, hummus is the tasty chickpea dish. By Caleb Goossen, Ph.D. The word “humus” has been used to describe soil organic matter since the late 18th century, deriving from the same word in Latin, which simply meant soil. Beyond referring generally to the layer of a soil profile rich in

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Air and Your Garden

By Will Bonsall Organic matter is basically composed of two types of elements: minerals and gasses. The minerals are obvious: they’re what’s left when you burn organic matter (like wood). The part that is gone is the gasses, four of them in all: hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. Now of course reduced carbon (as in

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Spring Growth – From the Ground Up: Soil Improvement

Presentations at Spring Growth 2010 At the Spring Growth Conference, Eliot Coleman talked about the importance of soil fertility and soil aeration in promoting the growth of pest-resistant crops. English photo. The 2010 Spring Growth Conference at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity featured Dr. Will Brinton of Woods End Laboratories in Mt. Vernon, Maine; Eliot

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Providing Nitrogen to Organic Crops

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Nitrogen is usually the nutrient that is in limiting supply, i.e., the limiting factor to crop growth on organic farms. Plants deficient in nitrogen are stunted, yellowish (especially the lower leaves), and have restricted root growth. Plants turn yellow because nitrogen is an integral part of chlorophyll,

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Basics of Organic Vegetable Gardening

Prepared byDr. Eric Sideman andDr. Jean English Introduction The science of gardening is complex, but the actual practice is simple. The central goal of organic gardening is to maintain or improve the ability of the soil to support plant life as it produces a crop of vegetables each year. That ability depends on a dynamic

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An Introduction to the Physical Nature of Soils

by Eric Sideman, PhDMOFGA’s Organic Crop Specialist Emeritus Benefits of Composting The soil is a complex and dynamic system of living and nonliving components. In natural ecosystems, minerals cycle from living back to non-living components, while organic matter levels remain relatively constant as deposits of organic matter (from falling leaves, for example) balance decomposition. In

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Ridge Tillage at Hackmatack Farm

By Nicolas LindholmPhotos and illustrations by Nicolas Lindholm Ridge tillage as we practice it at Hackmatack Farm is a system of growing vegetable crops in raised ridges formed before planting. Essential to this system is incorporation of winterkilled cover crops and other organic matter into the top surface layer of soil as we form the

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