HSHW 2018 at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference

The fifth Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters Symposium was held March 6th and 7th at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada, Ohio. Almost 900 crop consultants, producers, and subject experts were in attendance. The series is dedicated to a whole systems approach to agricultural land management. The objective is to optimize management for healthy soils, nutritious foods, clean water, and farm profits. This year we had experts speaking on building soil health, regenerative agriculture, healthy foods, precision nutrient management, and healthy waters. We thank Randall Reeder, Alan Sundermeier (Healthy Soils Healthy Environment at OSU Extension), the CTC team, moderators, and speakers. Special thanks to our sponsors, Exactrix and TKI Crop Vitality. Speakers represented an impressive range of organizations including Ohio State University, USDA-NRCS, USDA-ARS, Iowa State University, University of Washington, Ohio Farm Bureau, The Nature Conservancy, MillerCoors, Cooper Farms, University of Waterloo, Purdue University, Legacy Farms, Agren, and farmers. Barry Fisher (Region Soil Health Team Leader, USDA-NRCS) kicked off the event by highlighting the benefits of no-till and cover crops on soil and illustrated how aggregate stability is improved in a no-till system. David Montgomery (University of Washington) spoke on the importance of “Ditching the plow, Covering Up, and Growing Diversity.” David’s books include Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization, The Hidden Half of Nature, and Growing a Revolution: Bringing the Soil Back to Life. In Growing a Revolution, David consulted many innovative producers across the world who are regenerating their soils and protecting the environment while maintain profitability. David Brandt (Ohio producer) joined him onstage in describing practices he is using on his own farm in Ohio and the benefits he...

Composting: Rethinking Food Waste

Introduction: With the growth of the human population comes a demand for resources, an increase in consumption and consequently, waste. Greenleaf Communities understands the growing implications of waste – namely food waste. Consumer habits and food supply chain inefficiencies lead Americans to throw out the equivalent of $165 billion each year (Gunders, 2012). Considering the various inputs to food production, producing food requires 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, 50 percent of US land, and 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the U.S. (Gunders, 2012).  Not only is food waste an economic loss, it is a detriment to the environment as well. Food that ends up in landfills releases large amounts of methane gas, a harmful greenhouse gas. Composting is a method that can be utilized to reduce the impacts of food waste by transforming organic waste into a useful product that can enhance soil quality and, in turn, water quality. What is Composting? Composting is the utilization of aerobic (oxygen-requiring) decomposition processes to produce organic matter, compost, that can improve soil health. The aerobic process is carried out through the activity of microorganisms naturally present in organic material. Optimal levels of oxygen, moisture, and food (e.g. decomposing food waste) create an ideal environment for microbes to thrive (USCC 2008a). These microbes break down material and release water, heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the decomposition process. The CO2 produced during this process is considered part of the natural short-term carbon cycle, and is not considered in greenhouse gas emissions computations (USCC 2008b). On the other hand, as organic waste piles up in landfills, it undergoes anaerobic...