Soil health coalition formed in Pennsylvania

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(Photo: Pa. Department of Agriculture)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A new super-group was recently formed in Pennsylvania to promote and advance knowledge about the importance of soil health.

The Pennsylvania Soil Health Coalition, founded by 15 partner organizations, will focus on farmer support, educational events and research projects. The group wants to increase the adoption of soil health practices to meet water quality and farm production goals.

“The Pennsylvania Soil Health Coalition will help to strengthen our existing partnerships, build new ones and facilitate communication and coordination, with the goal of building soil health across the state,” said Denise Coleman, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in a statement.

The coalition is made up of 15 founding organizations, including Penn State Extension, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, Pennsylvania Grazing Lands Coalition, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance, Pennsylvania NRCS, Rodale Institute, Soil & Water Conservation Society, State Conservation Commission, 4R Alliance, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Stroud Water Resource Center and Steve Gross Cover Crop Coaching.

Pennsylvania is a national leader in the adoption of no-till planting and cover crops – two key practices for building soil health.  According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, the state is sixth in the nation for no-till planting, at 67% of acreage, and third in the nation for the percentage of commodity acres planted with cover crops, at 37.2%,. But there is still room for growth.

The coalition is supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund which receives funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, the tobacco company.

For more information including contacts for member organizations, visit the Pennsylvania Soil Health Coalition website at pasoilhealth.org or contact Lisa Blazure at lblazure@stroudcenter.org.

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