- Soil Management: soil analysis, soil quality/health
Soil Health is a critical component of thriving farms, and is a key strategy for improving climate resilience. The desire for improving soil health has been building among a wide diversity of Maine farmers over the past decade. This was confirmed by a statewide needs assessment conducted in 2019, which showed that support with soil health data collection and soil management practices are key areas of need for Maine farmers. To respond to this need, the Maine Soil Health Network was formed by a collaboration between Wolfe’s Neck Center (WNC) and Maine Farmland Trust (MFT), in partnership with Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (Pasa). The primary goal of the Maine Soil Health Network is to create a local collaborative of Maine farms, allowing for shared knowledge and building a community of farms interested in soil health. Soil tests will be taken on each Maine farm, analyzed, and then submitted to Pasa’s Benchmark Study where farmers can assess the health of their soils, and compare their soil health to their peer farms.
In this pilot year, eight farms will participate in the Network. MFT and WNC will collect soil samples and soil management practice data from participating farms, and will host gatherings and cohort calls to create information sharing and networking opportunities. The Maine Soil Health Network will increase soil health awareness among participating farms and create a peer network for continued learning with the ultimate goal of improving soil health and climate resilience on Maine farms.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to:
1: Support Maine farmers in learning about their soils to improve soil health
2: Take thorough soil health measurements and collect management data
3: Submit Maine data to Pasa’s Soil Health Benchmark Study; Pasa will produce reports for farmers to compare and learn about their soils
4: Coordinate ongoing farmer outreach, education, and collaborative engagement
5: Develop a peer-to-peer network of farmers interested in soil health and climate resilience, to support one another and share field management techniques