Soil is a living and life-giving substance. As the population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance.
But Florida is different from most other states. The majority of soils are sandy; rainfall is heavy and the growing season long. Agriculture is diverse. Farmers raise everything from row crops, all types of vegetable crops, including potatoes, to a myriad of specialty crops such as citrus, blueberries and sugarcane. What works to build soil health in the Midwest doesn’t necessarily apply here.
A newly formed workgroup has emerged to explore what does. This lively online community for producers, extension agents and researchers from Florida, Georgia and Alabama discusses everything from climate, cover crops, seeds and critters to equipment and drones as members of the Southeast Innovative Farming Team. The group conducts workshops and sponsors research.
The NRCS national website offers a comprehensive array of resources about soil health.
Why Cover Crops? Farmers Share Their Perspectives in SARE Video Series
"If somebody posed the question—would I farm without cover crops—I would say no," insists Kirk Brock, who grows corn, soybeans and peanuts on 1,000 acres in Monticello, Fla. His cover crop of choice, cereal rye, protects his hilly ground from erosion, and helps with weed control and moisture retention.
Brock is one of nearly two dozen farmers featured in the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education's (SARE) Cover Crop Innovators video series. From row crops to diversified vegetables, these farmers explain how and why cover crops are an indispensable part of their rotations. Cover crops improve yields, protect the soil, retain moisture, increase organic matter and provide many other benefits, and acreage planted to cover crops is increasing across the country, according to a four-year national survey.
Watch Kirk Brock's story or browse other stories from Florida and around the country.
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Contact Mimi Williams, 352-338-9544 for information on soil health.