Farmers should mimic nature to improve soil health: Part I

Farmers are learning about new soil health practices that can improve soils and their bottom lines.

Ray Archuleta produces different responses in farmers. Some are attracted to his ideas about soil health; others aren’t. But few can deny his passion about helping farmers improve their soils and their bottom lines.

Archuleta, a conservation agronomist with USDA’s-Natural Resources Conservation Service, believes many farmers can help themselves by following basic principles such as keeping their soil covered 365 days of the year. Such practices can help them mimic nature, which rarely leaves soils uncovered.

He was the lead-off speaker for a field day held by the newly formed Arkansas Soil Health Alliance in Cotton Plant, Ark. Cotton Plant was selected because it’s the home town of Adam Chappell, one of the officers of the new Alliance. Chappell spoke about practices he’s using on his farm to build soil health and improve survivability.

Robby Bevis, a producer from Lonoke, Ark., is president of the Alliance. Besides Chappell, who is serving as secretary, other members include Mike Taylor and Mike Taylor, Jr., father and son who farm in Helena, Ark.; Tim Smith; Kevin Scoggins; and Bill and Brett Carwell.

They are working with a number of state and federal agencies, universities and private industry to promote a holistic approach to soil health which includes cover crops, water management and nutrient management.

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