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Soil Health Grant Offers Cover Crop Evaluations and the Cornell Soil Health Test

Carol MacNeil, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

December 22, 2014

The weather extremes of drought or heavy rains have resulted in poor crop production in some fields the last several years. Soils need to be in the best health to support crops through these challenging conditions. Covering 100% of your acres with the best cover crops/combinations, and reducing tillage, can reduce your risk of crop loss or low yields over the coming years.

The Cornell Vegetable Program just received a two year grant to work with vegetable, potato and dry bean growers in the Cornell Vegetable Program Region to increase or diversify their cover cropping, and/or to reduce tillage. For cooperating growers soil sampling, soil testing, and interpretation for the Cornell Soil Health Test (CSHT) will be free. Evaluation of biomass, weed growth, nitrogen produced, crop response, etc. can be done for new cover crop plantings being tried. Reduced/zone-tilled crops planted side by side with conventional crops can also be evaluated. Field days are part of this grant, as is assistance for grower discussion groups/grower-to-grower networking.

In order to be a cooperator in this grant program, growers and their fields need to be in the Lake Ontario Watershed (most of CVP region is). Growers also need to be state and federal program eligible, which can be accomplished this winter. To do this, first get farm and tract numbers established with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Farm practices need to be in compliance with the 1985 Food Security Act Highly Erodible Land and Swampbuster provisions, determined by Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) staff. Growers should be ready to identify a natural resource concern (i.e.- excessive erosion, a need to improve soil health due to compaction, etc.).

This winter is the perfect time to visit local NRCS and/or county Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) offices to work on this paperwork with staff, so the CVP can do sampling for the Cornell Soil Health Test in April. A big advantage of completing the paperwork for program eligibility is that growers can then apply for cost-sharing for new cover cropping practices (new cover crops or combinations) and/or reduced tillage practices, with the next funding cycle. More money than ever is available as an incentive for adoption of good soil health practices.

Additional Resources:
Federal program opportunities

Location of the nearest FSA and/or NRCS office

Location of the nearest SWCD office

If you have questions about soil health and farm in WNY, contact Carol MacNeil.


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Beets

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Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

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Carrots

Carrots

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Dry Beans

Dry Beans

Eggplant

Eggplant

Ethnic Vegetables

Ethnic Vegetables

Garlic

Garlic

Horseradish

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Leeks

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

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Melons

Onions

Onions

Parsnips

Parsnips

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Peas

Peppers

Peppers

Potatoes

Potatoes

Pumpkins / Gourds

Pumpkins / Gourds

Radishes

Radishes

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Rutabaga

Rutabaga

Snap Beans

Snap Beans

Squash - Summer

Squash - Summer

Squash- Winter

Squash- Winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

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Tomatoes

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Upcoming Events

Vegetable Pest and Cultural Management Field Meetings for Auction Growers

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 12, 2024 : Yates County
Himrod, NY

A hands-on demonstration of weed, insect and disease identification in vegetables including management options such as inter-row cover crops, grafting and where appropriate, spray options will be used to educate growers. Details on each topic will focus on field observations at the farm. 1.75 DEC credits in categories 10, 1a, 23, and 24.


Event Offers DEC Credits

July 16, 2024 : Ontario County
Stanley, NY

A hands-on demonstration of weed, insect and disease identification in vegetables including management options such as inter-row cover crops, grafting and where appropriate, spray options will be used to educate growers. Details on each topic will focus on field observations at the farm. 1.75 DEC credits in categories 10, 1a, 23, and 24.


Event Offers DEC Credits

July 24, 2024 : Seneca County
Romulus, NY

A hands-on demonstration of weed, insect and disease identification in vegetables including management options such as inter-row cover crops, grafting and where appropriate, spray options will be used to educate growers. Details on each topic will focus on field observations at the farm. 1.75 DEC credits in categories 10, 1a, 23, and 24.

View Vegetable Pest and Cultural Management Field Meetings for Auction Growers Details

Lake Erie Region Vegetable Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 25, 2024
Dunkirk, NY

We'll take a look at sprayers, pepper anthracnose, and walk the fields discussing other crop production issues. 2.0 DEC credits in categories 1a, 10, and 23.

View Lake Erie Region Vegetable Meeting Details

Niagara Region Vegetable Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

August 14, 2024
Clarence Center, NY

We'll start this meeting off at Root Down Farm to hear late season disease management updates in peppers and cole crops, plus current best management practices to limit fungicide resistance. Potato variety recommendations and disease control questions in potatoes will be addressed. 

Then we'll head to Kreher's beet field to view and discuss alternative weed control technologies. The beet field is an on-farm demonstration of various flame weeding protocols in comparison with stacked tool cultivation equipment. One or two weeding robots will be on-hand for live demonstrations and discussion of the technology's current abilities and future potential. We'll also cover industry updates and a review of late summer disease management in squash. 

2.0 DEC credits will be available in categories 23, 1a, and 10.

View Niagara Region Vegetable Meeting Details

Announcements

New Onion Resources Available

Attention onion growers! We've posted several new resources on the ONION page
  • 2024 Onion Fungicide "Cheat Sheet" for Control of Leaf Diseases
  • Know the Difference: Botrytis Leaf Blight Halo Lesions vs BLB Necrotic Spots
  • Scouting for Botrytis Leaf Blight Halo Lesions
  • Video: How to Identify Foliar Symptoms of Bacterial Disease in Onion
  • A New Pest for the New Year in WNY: Allium Leafminer is Here to Stay
  • Scouting Tips for Onion Thrips in Onions


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