August 2021 Newsletter

August 2021 Newsletter

August Newsletter

This month’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was sobering and unequivocal: climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying. Farmers are on the front line of Its impacts, with longer, deeper droughts and intense rainfall events becoming more common every year. The longterm effects, from saltwater intrusion due to sea level rise to shifts in growing regions for key crops, will touch every aspect of agricultural production over the next thirty years. Reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions, while taking steps to protect the most vulnerable and adapt our farming operations to extreme weather, are critical to ensuring that Maryland farms are part of our shared strategy to take on the greatest challenge of our time.

The final two visits of the Million Acre Challenge legislator farm tours, at Harborview Farms in Rock Hall and Holterholm Farm in Jefferson, showcased farmers whose practices, skills, and wisdom are examples of the powerful regenerative leadership of Maryland farmers. Both Trey Hill and Ron Holter brought their families to the tours, and we were joined at Harborview by Delegate Jay Jacobs, Delegate Steven Arentz and Senator Stephen Hershey, Jr, all from district 36, and at Holterholm by Delegate Karen Lewis Young and staff from district 3A, Delegate Ken Kerr from district 3B, and Delegate Pam Queen from district 14, who wins the regenerative crown for attending 3 of our 4 tours this summer. Our next steps together: continue to support these cutting-edge producers and grow the regenerative movement across the state. Our support for them, quite literally, means the world.

Enroll in the Million Acre Challenge

Million Acre Challenge Events

First Thursday Soil Health Hub Meeting
Thursday, September 2 at 7 a.m. | Register here

Join our Thursday Soil Health Hub meetings for networking and farmer-to-farmer connections. Bring your soil health challenges and inspirations. These meetings are for farmers and those who support them. All production systems and all scales are welcome, and the agenda is intentionally unstructured to give you time to check-in with others. Whether you’re asking questions, helping answer them, or just listening in, this is your time to get into the nitty gritty of soil health how-to for your farm. This month, let’s talk cover crops, or any other soil health topics you want to bring!

STARTING IN OCTOBER these meetings will shift to 1-hour, production-specific conversations across the first three Thursdays of the month. We’ll meet from 7:30-8:30 AM according to the schedule below. Come to any/all meetings in which you have interest. The events are FREE. Registration is required and available at the links below.

  • First Thursday = Grain – REGISTER
  • Second Thursday =  Specialty Crops (Fruit & Veg) – REGISTER
  • Third Thursday  = Pastured Livestock  – REGISTER

Soil Health to Go! Wednesday, September 8 at noon | Register here 

Grab your lunch and get ready to learn! This month, we chat with Bryan Racine of Racine Family Farm. After years of working alongside his father, Bryan has recently taken over management of the family’s grain operation in Rising Sun, MD. And, he’s doing things a little differently by implementing specific practices to help support soil health. Taking a cue from soil health guru, Gabe Brown, Bryan says, “If I don’t fail, I’m not trying hard enough.” He is excited about learning the nuances of no-till, cover cropping, water and nutrient cycling, and seed mixes, and his enthusiasm is compelling.

A participant in the Pasa / Million Acre Challenge Soil Health Benchmark Study and not afraid to try new things, Bryan is taking his desire to adapt his family’s farm to exciting new levels. Father of two boys, ages 1 and 2, working full time off-farm, and managing a grass cutting business to boot, Bryan’s insights are worth hearing.

>> Save the date for the next lunch & learn!

Wednesday, October 7, 12-12:30P. Guest speaker TBD, but we’ll be focusing on soil health for vegetable production systems. See you there!

Farmers’ Stories 

For fifth-generation dairy farmer Ron Holter, change comes from the inside out and from the ground up. When he took over his father and uncle’s 250-acre farm in Jefferson, Maryland, they were a conventional Holsten dairy, housing their cows in large buildings and feeding them grain grown on the rest of the land.


Soil Health Hubs

Regional Soil Health Hubs are where growers connect with each other to explore practices, strategies, and opportunities to make farmland more profitable and resilient through healthier soil — we hope you will join us!

Soil Health Resources  

100% funding for high priority agriculture conservation practices is now available through Maryland Department of Agriculture. Click here for more information.

Soil Health Events

ILSR’s On-Farm Composting & Compost Use Webinar Series | Register here

This webinar series features experts from across the industry and covers the ins and outs of on-farm composting and compost use. In the second of the series, Integrating Composting Into Your Farming Business, Ellen Polishuk, biological farming consultant, educator, and co-author of Start Your Farm, will map out how farmers can add the production of high-quality compost to their operations. Over the course of 25 years, Ellen and her partners transformed Potomac Vegetable Farm’s Loudoun County farm from a 50-acre field of no-till sweet corn grown with herbicide and chemical fertilizer to a thriving, diversified organic vegetable operation. Compost that Ellen produced on-farm was an essential ingredient in this transformation. In this webinar, Ellen will detail the why, where, how, and when of adding composting to a farming business, including costs, equipment needs, tweaking compost recipes to help meet soil fertility needs, and how to apply compost.

ILSR is a founding member of the Million Acre Challenge.

NC Soil Health Workshop Series
NC Cooperative Extension is hosting a monthly virtual workshop series on soil health, exploring the breadth of research and management strategies. The next session is September 21, when Dr. Janel Ohletz presents: Weaving a Strong Soil Food Web.

Save the Date!

Future Harvest Conference
January 13-15, 2022. Now accepting sponsorships and exhibitors!

Delmarva Soil Summit
February 7-8, 2022. Groundwork for the Future for farms of all sizes.

News of Note
Pledge to stand with Chesapeake Bay farmers
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has put together a pledge to show your support for federal investment to deliver conservation benefits on agricultural lands in the Chesapeake Bay. Read more and sign the pledge here. Future Harvest is now accepting applications for its Beginning Farmer Training ProgramClick here for more information.  

Maryland Soil Phosphorus Tests are due Sept. 20th. Read more here.

HOW SOIL HEALTH PRACTICES BOOST THE BOTTOM LINE: An article to help you think about the financial benefits of farming for soil health. Read here: Successful Farming

MDA offering $1,000/acre incentive for participating in long-term conservation program 
Maryland farmers who are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) with contracts due to expire on Sept. 30, 2021, now have the opportunity to transition to a 30-year contract option through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative (CLEAR30). To encourage participation, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is offering a one-time bonus payment of $1,000/acre as an incentive for CLEAR30-approved contracts in Maryland. Learn more here.

Founding Partners

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