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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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Asparagus

Asparagus

Beets

Beets

Broccoli

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Cabbage

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

Melons

Melons

Onions

Onions

Parsnips

Parsnips

Peas

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

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Turnips

Turnips

more crops

Upcoming Events

2021 Oswego County Onion Growers Twilight Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

June 24, 2021
Hannibal, NY

It's going to be a Weed Control Extravaganza at this year's Oswego County Onion Growers Twilight Meeting! Bring weed samples for identification. 2.25 DEC recertification credits will be available (categories 1A, 10 and 23). CCA credits will also be available. This meeting is being organized by Oswego County Vegetable Growers and Improvement Association and CCE Cornell Vegetable Program.

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Announcements

Herbicide Charts for Vegetable Crops Available

The Cornell Vegetable Program has compiled herbicide charts for control of weeds in the following crops in New York in 2021: table beets and peas. While these reference charts are handy, it is critical to read the labels thoroughly. 

Eastern Broccoli Market Opportunity Assessment

Is there an opportunity for New York growers and marketers to invest in broccoli production and distribution as a way to diversify and strengthen their businesses, while adding jobs, dollars, and resilience to the economy and rural communities?

The Eastern Broccoli Market Opportunity Assessment for New York State sought to answer this very question. The study was made possible by the initiative of three partner organizations: Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation, Red Tomato, and the Eastern Broccoli Project, with funding provided by Empire State Development.


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