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Practical Soil Health Specialist Training

Overview

Farmers in New York face many challenges. Improving the health of their soil can help them increase resiliency during extreme weather, improve profits through reduced inputs and potentially higher yields, and provide environmental benefits like reducing erosion and runoff. Want to help farmers address the challenges with practical soil health solutions?

Become a Practical Soil Health Specialist

Calling all New York agricultural service providers: Apply to become a practical soil health specialist, part of a statewide network of professionals trained in advanced soil health principles and techniques to give practical advice and solutions to farmers looking to improve the health of their soils. 

Applications Due: July 10, 2020 (extended!)

Program Begins: Mid/late October

Duration: Two, two-day workshops: one in October 2020 & one in March 2021

Seats: 20

Where: Location TBD

Cost: $100 participation fee, due by 9/21/2020

Apply: Complete Application Form

Training Outline & Schedule*

We will select up to 20 participants to receive instruction that will be delivered through two two-day combinations of workshops and associated field days that will include lectures, demonstrations, hands-on activities, panel discussions, observation, and review of case studies. Participants will have the opportunity to network with instructors, farmers, and other participants.

*draft

Workshop 1: Soil Health Principles, and Cropping Systems and Cover Crops

3rd or 4th week of October

Day 1: Orientation to the project. Soil health principles; assessment methods; soil biology and ecology; soil health demonstrations; and resource concerns. 

Day 2: Crop rotation and cover crop considerations; cover crop characteristics and benefits of cover crops; Cover crop seeding and termination.

Workshop 2: Eliminating, Reducing, or Modifying Tillage and Adaptive Nutrient Management for Soil Health

Early March, 2021

Day 1: No-till and reduced till systems; benefits of reduced tillage; tillage equipment.

Day 2: Nutrient cycling; how soil biology impacts nutrient management; nutrient scavenging; fertilizer recommendations; modeling and tools; manure management and application.

Who’s this for?

Private and public sector agricultural service providers, serving New York farmers, who want to improve their knowledge of soil health to better serve their clients. Potential participants may include: crop consultants, agronomists, seed dealers, integration specialists or technicians working with equipment dealerships, custom operators, IPM specialists, nutrient management planners, educators, conservation planners, etc.

Soil Health Topics Covered

  • Soil health principles, functions, indicators, and assessment methods
  • Soil biology and ecology
  • Cover crops and cropping systems
  • Adaptive nutrient management and manure management
  • No-till and conservation tillage systems 
  • The economics of soil health
  • Communication skills for working with farmers

What will be expected of me? 

You will be required to commit to both workshops in late 2020 and early 2021.

You must also commit to contribute to one educational event (workshop, demonstration, tour, field day, etc.) related to soil health for your farmer clients, and/or provide technical assistance to farmers on soil health related activities (soil health assessment, soil health plan, implementation or trial of a soil health practice such as cover cropping, conservation tillage/residue management, nutrient management, crop rotation, etc.) by December 2021.

Our goal is to have our 20 participants reach 200 farmers and have at least 25 of the farmers conduct a soil health assessment, develop a soil health plan, conduct a field trial of a soil health practice, or fully implement a soil health practice.

Participants will be responsible for reporting back on their soil health educational and technical activities. Participants will also be surveyed on training effectiveness and opinions on improving future training. 

 

How to Apply

 

Complete the online application here. Please note – you can return to the survey to pick up where you have left off and/or edit previous responses until you click the “Done” button. You must use the same device and web browser when returning to the survey to complete.

Applications due June 27, 2020.

Questions may be directed to Joseph Amsili, Extension Associate with New York Soil Health at jpa28@cornell.edu or 607-269-5046

Costs

The cost to successful applicants will be a $100 participation fee due by September 7, 2020.

 

  • The project will pay mileage for travel to and from workshops/field days, lodging for participants who must travel over 60 miles one way, and lunch while at workshops/field days.
  • We are not able to pay for participant’s time, or breakfast and dinner.
  • A limited number of scholarships are available on a competitive basis to cover the $100 participation fee. Selection will be based on the answers to specific questions on the project application form.

“What I liked best about this course was all the farms and the experiments shared. Very awesome to hear the innovative and advanced work going into soil health practices. These farmers seem more like scientists than laborers and tractor drivers.” – Previous Participant

 

 

Read about the 2018-20 graduates of the Practical Soil Health Specialists Training.

Funding

The 2020-2021 Practical Soil Health Specialist Training for New York Agricultural Service Providers is a project of New York Soil Health in close partnership with:

American Farmland Trust, Cornell, Cornell Soil Health Laboratory, Natural Resources Conservation Service, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell Small Farms Program, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, agri-businesses, and farmers.

The first NYS Soil Health Specialist Training Program (2018-2020) was funded through a grant from NE-SARE and led by American Farmland Trust in close collaboration with the above organizations.

Apply Now!

Help farmers address the challenges of extreme weather events, improve their profits, and provide environmental benefits with practical soil health solutions.

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