The purpose of this project was to explore the efficacy of various management practices and soil amendments on soil health and subsequently crop quality and yield.
The project team identified a field that was divided into replicated plots. A multi-year sampling approach was developed that utilized the Cornell Soil Health Program Work Team’s sampling procedures and delivered comprehensive Soil Health Assessment reports and scores. The replicated plots included a control and received prescribed applications of; Manure Compost, High-Carbon Compost, and Compost Tea. Soil Health reports, cover crop yields, and observational analysis were used to evaluate the affects of various treatments.
Although Soil Health scores indicated some degree of response to the various applications, it was determined that statistically significant data would likely require many years of sampling and would still be complicated by the diversity of factors influencing the overall soil health.
To this end it was determined that the Cornell Soil Health Program Work Team’s – Soil Health reports prove to be a valuable tool for assessing a farm’s soil health status and subsequently assist in developing farm management plans that address long term soil building and soil health goals. These Soil Health assessments examine the Chemical, Physical and Biological condition of the soil and identify assets and areas of constraint with respect to soil health. This approach enables comprehensive planning that includes cultural and tillage practices as well as the incorporation of amendments, cover crops and applications.