New Roadmap Focuses on Soil Health in New York

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The Cornell-led New York Soil Health Initiative has just released its Soil Health Roadmap, which identifies ways farmers and land managers can adopt better soil health practices. Above, Jean-Paul Courtens, left, of Roxbury Farm, discusses the finer points of using a roller crimper to terminate a cover crop and create a layer of mulch that suppresses weeds in preparation for planting a cash crop.
Courtesy of Cedric Mason.

In a collaborative effort between the New York Soil Health Initiative and Cornell University, a new plan has been rolled out to help guide the adoption of soil health practices in New York State. This new program, titled the New York Soil Health Roadmap, was written to address sustainability in food production through innovation in soil health practices.

The roadmap combines policy, education, and research objectives to help establish better soil practices for our farmers. Led by professor David Wolfe, of plant and soil ecology, the roadmap takes an inside look at barriers preventing farmers from implementing soil conservation practices.

What sets this roadmap apart from previous projects is its widespread collaboration. This project was able to bring together diverse stakeholders including community members, environmental conservationists, academics and policymakers as well as farmers. By taking a holistic look at soil conservation, the roadmap outlines the link between soil, water, and air quality. It also addresses the results from the 2018 New York Farmer Survey where farmers can express their pressing economic concerns.

Climate change issues are a looming problem for the continued agricultural economy in New York State. Good soil practices, described in the roadmap can be powerful tools to adapt to uncertain conditions.

“After working on this roadmap for over a year, I’m more optimistic than ever about the sustainability of New York’s diverse agriculture,” Wolfe stated while being interviewed for the Cornell Chronicle. “We not only have innovative farmers rebuilding their soils, but also a wide range of allies, from consumers to policymakers, who are ready to support them.”

To learn more, read the CALS article about the New York Soil Health Roadmap

Anna Birn

Anna Birn is a junior studying Agricultural Science with a minor in Community Food Systems. She works as a student assistant at the Cornell Small Farms Program, supporting its communications and outreach efforts.
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