- Crop Production: cover crops
- Education and Training: extension
- Soil Management: soil quality/health
The goal of this project will be to establish and support a core group of Extension "Soil Health Service Providers" as part of a grower support network. This project has the full support of Clemson and South Carolina State Extension administrators who have made training in soil health a top priority for existing agriculture agents, and for future agents who begin careers in agricultural Extension. Currently in South Carolina there are a few "innovative" farmers who have tried and been successful testing new more sustainable approaches for soil health and fertility management including cultural methods such as cover cropping. However, most farmers are more risk averse and want ideas to be thoroughly tested before trying them out. Thus, there is a critical need for assistance to help these "middle adopters" implementing alternative soil health practices. Without a solid understanding of how cover crop benefits are directly related to soil biology, however, making sound cover crop management decisions for the long term is challenging, and cover cropping is just one element of a conservation cropping system that provides for sound soil health management. The proposed project will build upon previous research and outreach programs to provide in-depth, advanced soil health training and experiential learning with an emphasis on soil biology for selected South Carolina agricultural professionals. Graduates of the training will, in turn, provide outreach and assistance on soil health in their respective communities.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Provide in-depth training and experiential learning in soil health with an emphasis on soil biology for a core group of committed agriculture professionals in South Carolina.
- Establish a cadre of Extension "Soil Health Service Providers" as part of a statewide grower support network around soil health.
- Create increases in awareness about the importance of soil health, soil health management, and practices to improve soil health among farmers and farm advisors.
- Promote self sufficiency among farmers in how to manage production fields for improved soil health, soil nutrient efficiency and to foster improved soil resilience and overall farm profitability.