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Focus on the Farm Blog - Soil Health in Idaho

By Courtney Coston, University of Idaho-Extension and USDA-NRCS Idaho
Publish Date
person holding grain

Introducing, Courtney Cosdon!

News about the benefits of soil health is everywhere, and producers across Idaho have taken notice. Idaho producers are adopting practices such as no-till planting into residue, grazing ruminants on diverse cover crops over winter, as well as diversifying their rotations with crops some of us have never heard of, like Teff - these are just a few examples of soil health practices in the Magic and Treasure Valleys. Even with many producers getting on board, there is still more work to be done.

Recently, Courtney Cosdon was hired to help inform producers on regional soil health research and to bring soil health-minded folk together to be able to share management practices and ideas. This position is a partnership between University of Idaho (UI) Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Although her position covers southern Idaho, Cosdon is based in Boise and hopes to help push the movement forward in the Treasure Valley.

NRCS/University of Idaho and other agriculture organizations have been working hard to create opportunities for producers to learn more about and get involved in soil health in Idaho, both in person and virtually. There are recurring soil health events such as the 5 for 5 Soil Health Roundtables, which take place roughly once a month during the off season and can be viewed on UI’s YouTube page offsite link image    . Also on the YouTube page are several Virtual Field Days, which highlight soil health work from Idaho farmers in the field.

As part of this joint effort, NRCS and U of I are participating in a Soil Health Field Day;happening on June 29th in the Magic Valley. There will be demonstrations, the NRCS soil health trailer, booths from our partner organizations including The Nature Conservancy, Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture (ICSA) and more. After the field day, ICSA will host a casual meet-and-greet and discuss their Farmer Learning Network, a peer-to-peer virtual learning community. We also hope to host another Soil Health Field Day this summer in the Treasure Valley.

Some people prefer more casual learning, and we hope they (and you!) will join us for one of our impromptu field days. These events are informal and highlight a practice that the host producer would like to share. These events are usually advertised about a week in advance and are an opportunity for conversation and to see other operations in your area. If you have a practice you would like to share with others, please contact Cosdon.  

University of Idaho Extension now has a Soil Health website offsite link image     which houses links to resources and has a calendar for events, including those impromptu field days. We invite you to check it out. Looking forward through 2022, we are excited about creating more virtual field day videos, developing more resources focused on soil health and limited water/drought conditions and having in-person events once again. Early next year, we will be hosting the annual Magic Valley Forum for producers to connect and chat about what worked and didn’t in 2022, as well as plans for the upcoming planting season. We also hope to host a similar forum in the Treasure Valley off-season.

NRCS and U of I soil scientists and educators have been working with producers around southern Idaho, who are doing exciting work and having success. We hope you and your neighbors will come join us and learn from your peers! Our team is busy thinking of more ways to help producers learn from and connect with each other. So, please come to an event, check out our websites, and get involved to learn more about bettering the health of your soil and your operation.