Beaver County Conservation District Holds Soil Health and Cover Crop Event

District Conservationist Andy Gaver digs into a hay field and discusses what healthy soil should look and feel like. Photo submitted by Beaver County Conservation District.

District Conservationist Andy Gaver digs into a hay field and discusses what healthy soil should look and feel like. Photo submitted by Beaver County Conservation District.

Fourteen farmers spent the evening learning about soil health and cover crops at Fischer’s Windy Ridge Dairy in Fombell, Beaver County, on August 12, 2016. The event was hosted by Andy Gaver, District Conservationist at USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Jeff Leindecker, Agriculture Conservationist at Beaver County Conservation District. After a soil health demonstration, attendees were taken to a perennial hay field to see what healthy soil looks like. Several holes were dug and plant/root clumps were passed around for observation. “Healthy soil aggregates should resemble cottage cheese,” commented Andy Gaver. Once attendees had a good feel for healthy soil, the group moved to a 5 acre long-season multi-species cover crop. The field had a history of heavy tillage and the surface soil structure was completely degraded. After two months in cover, improved soil aggregate stability was observed and rainfall infiltration saw an inch of simulated rainfall infiltrate in less than two minutes. Before planting the cover crop, it took more than ten minutes for an inch of simulated rainfall to infiltrate. Financial and other support for this field day provided by: Fischer’s Windy Ridge Dairy, Deerfield Farms Service, Inc., Progressive Dairy Systems, King’s AgriSeeds, Beaver County Conservation District, and USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service.  

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