Investing in the Vitality of Your Farm
The health and productivity of the soil forms the basis for any farm’s success, profitability, and ecological sustainability. Successful farmers need to develop a holistic approach to preserving and building soil health and fertility. Stewardship of the soil is arguably the most important job of any farmer or gardener.
All levels — This course is for field crop, vegetable, and livestock producers. We expect that students will have some experience in managing soils, even if minimal. Farmers looking for more productive soils to increase forage and crop production will benefit from taking this course.
Through this course, participants will:
- Know how soil properties affect growing crops and pasture
- Learn how to “read the land” and improve the four ecosystem processes
- Determine appropriate soil practices to improve soil health
- Begin work on a soil health improvement plan for their farm
The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in Teachable, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from presenters and ask questions in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.
This course will not offer a 6 week live session during 2022-2023, but we encourage you to complete it as a self-paced course. All webinars are recorded and posted in our online classroom for you to watch anytime. You will also retain access to all materials indefinitely, and may return to participate in the live webinars in future offerings of the course if you wish.
In 2023, we will offer one LIVE session on Monday, March 27th from 7:00 – 8:30PM Eastern Time. During this 2023 LIVE class we will be reviewing:
- Basic soil properties.
- Four principles of soil health.
- Photos of soils and how to recognize good and poor soil health (you also can submit a photo of your crop fields or pastures for discussion).
There will be opportunities to ask questions and meet your fellow students.
Enroll today to join us!
Elizabeth Marks is a certified educator with Holistic Management International (HMI). She serves as a biologist for the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) in the Hudson Valley (New York) where she works with landowners to improve soil health and biological diversity on their farm or forest. In addition she is an instructor for NY’s Beginning Women Farmer Program and has taught workshops on Holistic Management principles. Elizabeth received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Mount Holyoke College. She lives in Chatham in a net-zero, energy efficient home she designed herself.
StartCLASS: Week 1 Webinar Slides, Join Link, and Recording
StartREADING: Course Text Pages 3-35, 49-67
StartVIDEO: Soil Health 1-Minute Lesson
StartVIDEO: Understanding Cation Exchange Capacity and Other Soil Terms
StartFORUM: Introduce Yourself; Meet Your Fellow Farmers
StartACTIVITY and FORUM: Map Your Soils
StartACTIVITY: Determine Soil Texture by Feel
StartACTIVITY: Start Your Soil Health Plan
StartRESOURCE: Estimating Soil Moisture by Feel and Appearance