Know your soil layers (USDA)

Know your soil layers (USDA)

By Pamela Doan for The Highlands Current

To understand our soils, you have to imagine ice in every direction.

Fifteen thousand years ago, the Hudson Valley was covered by a sheet of solid ice filled with boulders and sediment. The land below it was scraped to the bedrock. As the glacier melted, the water carried the sediment away. When the water flowed faster, the boulders moved with it.

That movement created one of the most complex geological regions in the world, with deposits of shale, slate, schist and limestone.

“We have wide soil diversity,” explains Dave Llewellyn, director of farm stewardship at Glynwood, a nonprofit based in Philipstown whose mission is to ensure the Hudson Valley is a place where farming thrives. “The rich range of soil types across 12 counties contributes to the diversity in crops and livestock, which is also an enormous agricultural benefit, one which many regions don’t have.”

New York state is also at the leading edge of managing soil health. “Historically, managing soil health was purely chemistry — basically, fertilizers,” he says, until Cornell University created an assessment to measure soil health that included biological and physical indicators.

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