Let’s Talk About Healthy Soil

by Mike Hensley, Green River Project Manager

Talking about healthy soil may not seem very exciting, right?  I thought that myself until witnessing the outcome of a Soil Health Workshop I recently helped to organize in Munfordville.

© TNC Staff
John Graham from NRCS speaks to a standing-room-only crowd. © TNC Staff

I didn’t know what kind of interest we might have around here on the topic. So I was (very) pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be a standing room only event.

Although I’m still figuring out the best way to partner up with folks on this kind of stuff, this effort worked pretty well. Basically it amounted to me going into the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Extension offices to say: “Let’s work together on a Soil Health workshop!”

Then I spoke briefly about why the Conservancy is so interested in soil health. In many cases when you’re talking with farms about improving their soil, you end up “preaching to the choir.” To me, a soil health approach to land use, especially farming, can and should be a win-win-win for any interests regardless of the perspective.

© NRCS
Healthy Soil © NRCS

Put simply, healthy soils are directly tied to the health of our landscapes. Here in Kentucky, that means that the effects reach far beyond state borders to the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. Having healthy, living soils, especially on our working farmlands, helps reduce harmful runoff and chemicals leaching into our waterways, provides better habitat for wildlife, and can help bring modern agriculture into greater harmony with natural ecosystems.

After making my pitch about the workshop, I told prospective attendees the words everybody likes to hear…there would be pizzas and drinks. Pizza Hut didn’t donate the pizzas but they did give me 30% off, which was a big help.

I don’t know whether it was the pizza or the subject matter but it didn’t matter . . . they came! We had 50 attendees on the nose. And they didn’t just sit there. They showed great interest in the material. They asked some very good questions.

I am so grateful for the partners who cooperated on the workshop with us: NRCS, University of Kentucky Extension, Hart County Conservation District and Cover Crop Production. We could not have pulled it off without them.

© TNC Staff
Mussels and other aquatic wildlife in the Green River benefit from healthy soils. © TNC Staff

Finally, visit the NRCS website or search “soil health” on Google to learn more about this topic which influences everything from a farmer’s bottom line to mussels in the Green River to fish populations in the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll be surprised at how interesting the subject of soil health can be!

One thought on “Let’s Talk About Healthy Soil

  1. Great piece Mike. No only is the content great, but good to see something offered to members and community folks. I am not surprised that you found a receptive audience. Good job.

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