Soil Health Field Walk – Northampton County

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The Northampton County division of Farmland Preservation, in coordination with the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service Bethlehem Field Office, conducted a Soil Health Field Walk at Gracedale Cropland Fields on November 15th. Thirty-one local farmers, landowners and resource professionals toured fields seeded with cereal rye, crimson, clover and red clover. During the tour, they dug holes in the soil to examine its health.

Soil Health is the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. Healthy high functioning soils provide a multitude of benefits to the community as a whole. Some of the functions of healthy soils are the production of food, feed, and fiber; the capture, filtration, and storage of water; cycling and recycling of nutrient and chemicals; resisting erosive forces; detoxification of pollutants; and providing and enhancing habitat for greater biodiversity.

The cereal rye, crimson clover, and red clover plants growing in the Gracedale Cropland Fields were broadcasted into standing crops of corn and soybeans on September 3rd via an airplane. This cover crop will continue to grow until April, providing many benefits to the health of the soil.

Following the crop talk, the group made their way back to the newly renovated Conference Room in the Greystone Building for group discussions on soil health, management practices, nutrient management, crop rotations, and obstacles preventing further implementation of greater soil health management practices in agricultural systems. The farmers discussed current issues and obstacles limiting the sustainment of the agricultural industry and higher level, sustainable land management and food production in agricultural systems.

For additional information on cover cropping and soil health, contact the Northampton County Farmland Preservation office at 610-829-6287.

Information provided to TVL by:
Becky Bartlett
Deputy Director of Administration
Northampton County Government Center
669 Washington Street
Easton, PA 18042