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Empire Farm Days Virtual Soil Health Center

Photo (left to right): John Wallace, Ph.D., assistant professor of Weed Science at Pennsylvania State; Jennifer Moore-Kucera, Ph.D., Climate Initiative Director at American Farmland Trust, Jean-Paul Stewart-Courtens. founder of Roxbury Agriculture Institute at Philia Farm

By Kitty Gifford

The New York State Interagency Soil Health Working Group, New York Soil Health, and Empire Farm Days have announced the Soil Health Center keynote speakers for the 2020 Empire Farm Days. This event will be held on July 29-31, 2020. Usually, this event occurs in person at Rodman Lott and Son Farms in Seneca Falls, N.Y, but this year the Soil Health Center program will be virtual.

The keynote presentations will be at 10 am on both Wednesday, July 29 and Friday, July 31, and at 11 am on Thursday, July 30. The programming includes expert speakers, farmer panels, and a virtual cover crop tour.

The Soil Health Center keynote speakers for 2020 will be John Wallace, Ph.D., Penn State University; Jennifer Moore-Kucera, Ph.D., American Farmland Trust; and Jean-Paul Stewart-Courtens, Roxbury Farm.

  • John Wallace, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Weed Science at Pennsylvania State, will discuss his team’s cover crop interseeding research and future directions of this practice. Wallace conducts cutting-edge sustainable cropping systems research aimed at developing cover cropping strategies to manage weeds in full- and reduced- tillage systems. He specializes in finding cover crops and other solutions to managing herbicide-resistant weeds.


  • Jennifer Moore-Kucera, Ph.D., leads the Farmers Combat Climate Change program at American Farmland Trust that focuses on regenerative agricultural practices, farmland protection, and clean, renewable energy. Moore-Kucera has been a leader in soil health research and outreach via previous positions in academia and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She will speak on the linkages between soil biology and soil health. Soil biology underpins many of the critical soil functions that we depend on in agriculture.


  • Jean-Paul Stewart-Courtens has dedicated much of his career educating the next generation of farmers. Stewart-Courtens will discuss his on-farm research and experience with reduced tillage and cover cropping on organic vegetable farms. He will share some of the lessons about what has worked and what hasn’t worked in his trials over the years. Stewart-Courtens was recognized as Farmer of the Year by NOFA-NY in January 2018.


The Soil Health Center at Empire Farm Days is made possible by the New York State Interagency Soil Health Working Group, New York Soil Health and Empire Farm Days.

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