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Meet Virginia's Soil Health Champions

NRCS Soil Health Contacts

Chris Lawrence, Cropland Agronomist J.B. Daniel, Forage & Grassland Agronomist

Chris Lawrence
Cropland Agronomist
PH: 804-287-1680

J.B. Daniel
Forage & Grassland Agronomist
PH: 434-392-4171, ext. 115

Local Soil Health Advocates

Many Virginia farmers are already implementing soil health concepts and soil health management systems into their operations. These no-till farmers are helping to us spread the word about the benefits of soil health practices.

Jimmy Crosby, Cros-B-Crest Farm

“Leaving crop residue on the land and planting cover crops are the easiest ways to increase organic matter in the soil. It has laid the foundation for a successful, sustainable row-crop operation.”

Jimmy Crosby, Staunton, VA

Learn more about Jimmy's soil health journey.


Jay Hundley, Essex County

"You've got to remember that the soil is alive. It's an organism and you have to feed it like any other living thing that you raise in that field."

Jay Hundley, Essex County

Hear more of his story in our Gaining Ground: Successful No-Till Farmers Share Their Stories video.

Junior Beachy, Augusta County "I concluded that we were beating our soil to death. Now, you can take a shovel or spade to the field and always find earthworm passages. The soil has a structure to it that it didn't have before."

Junior Beachy, Augusta County

Hear more of his story in our Gaining Ground: Successful Graziers Share Their Stories video.


Richard Moyer, Russell County soil health champion

Richard Moyer's first contact with NRCS came before he ever owned a farm. He and his family decided they were ready for a fairly radical change from his work as a molecular biology professor at King University in Bristol, Tenn. They wanted to try farming, with the goal of producing enough to meet their own needs and selling their surplus for supplemental income.

Almost immediately, he began the three-year transition process that now allows him to certify all his fruits and vegetables as organic and reach a larger goal of improving soil health on  every acre.

Read more (PDF, 1.8MB).

Anthony Beery In the fight to keep their farms both sustainable and profitable, Virginia growers like Anthony Beery are taking a page from the sports playbook by going on the offensive with management systems that defend against opponents of soil health and productivity. For the Shenandoah Valley grower, these opponents were compaction and erosion. An extension workshop on compaction got Beery thinking and helped him start his own soil health playbook.

Read more (PDF, 1.4MB).


Terry Ingram

In 2003, Terry Ingram took over management of the Culpeper County farm where he was born and raised, and set out to convert his land into a 100 percent organic, grass-fed dairy farm. Since then, he says he's gotten much more in tune with feeding the soil and can actually see the return on that effort. Ingram has grass when other people don’t because healthy soil retains water so much better.

Read more (PDF, 2.2MB). Copyright © Environmental Working Group, Reprinted with permission.

J.C. Winstead With the price of grain and fertilizer, Craig County grazier J.C. Winstead says good forage management has never been more important to cattlemen than it is today. He recognizes that healthy soil is better equipped to supply nutrients and moisture to forages, which factors directly into his bottom line at the end of the year.

Read more (PDF, 1MB).

Antoinette Goodrich

In Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, Antoinette Goodrich has based her farm philosophy on a love of the land and nearby Holston River, and her desire to protect them. She tries to bring in a lot of diversity to her operation, raising chickens, ducks, turkeys, cows, pigs, lambs, goats, and sheep. Antoinette refers to her cows as tenders because they are such important workers on the farm, re-depositing unused nutrients back on the ground and stimulating plant growth.

Read more (PDF, 1.7MB).
View Common Ground (a new series of short films showcasing Annette's Laughing Water Farm and her conservation practices)

Hill Profile

Much like the oral traditions of Native American peoples, farming knowledge and skills are often passed from one person to another. Justin D. "J.D." Hill has been both a mentor and mentee in managing his cow/calf operation with 90 brood cows in Carroll County, Virginia.

Though he came from a farming family, J.D. knew that he needed to become a student to realize his vision of a more productive and profitable business
that could support him in retirement. His operation encompasses 390 acres on four farms and five tracts, so he had a lot of ground to cover to make
it more sustainable.

Read more (PDF, 3.8MB).

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