Healthy Farms from the Soil Up: Finding Common Ground -- Virginia Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Final Project Report
This Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) addresses soil health, a priority for USDA-NRCS. We specifically focused on finding and building common ground around soil health management through innovative partnerships and educational outreach across agricultural and conservation communities. The educational programing and outreach products focused on four project objectives: 1) to develop an intermediate level soil health curriculum endorsed by and useful to both Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Virginia Tech/Virginia Cooperative Extension; 2) to encourage farmer-to-farmer learning through on-farm demonstrations, case studies and testimonials of innovative farmers as ‘Soil Health Champions’ for Virginia who could share their applications of soil health principles on reduced tillage and cover cropping in specialty crop production; 3) to increase adoption of summer and winter cover cropping systems; and 4) to prevent soil loss and nutrient runoff through demonstration, training and promotion of Virginia USDA-NRCS’ rainfall simulator. The fundamental project goal was to ensure key Virginia partners, including NRCS, Land Grant Universities and Extension institutions, other agencies, and a broad range of farmers, find and stand on “common ground” with respect to soil health principles and some consensus of vocabulary and messaging.