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Soil Health workshop - March 2023

Event date/time: 
Friday, March 24, 2023 - 10:00am to 2:00pm
Event Type: 
Event location: 
UMass Equine and Livestock Research and Education Farm
111 N Maple St, Hadley, MA, 01035
10:00 – 11:00 am Live virtual presentation Developing an Urban Soil Health Program
Elli Blaine Director of the Urban Soil Health Program for the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. 

Elli will share the experience of developing a program that specifically addresses urban stakeholders' unique soil health needs. The program's mission is to improve soil health on Indiana's urban and community small-scale agricultural land, ranging from small acreage market farms to church gardens and vacant lots transformed into community gardens. The program is designed to reach and assist a broad audience of traditionally underserved populations in agriculture. Attendees will leave with new ideas and inspiration to support urban agriculture in Massachusetts.
11:00 – 11:10 am   Break
11:10-11:55 am Hands-on demonstration Creative Composting 
Dr. Masoud Hashemi Extension Faculty, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Masoud will demonstrate the practice of making composting tea and the process of building an aerated composting system to accelerate the breakdown of high-carbon compost. Composting tea has long been popular on small farms and gardens for its ability to stimulate biological activity in the soil and support plant growth. Composting tea is of increasing interest as part of a holistic soil-health management program. Attendees will practice building composting tea buckets with water bubblers. Masoud will demonstrate how to make the tea, discuss changes to nitrogen content, and share lessons from a commercial composting tea producer on Martha's Vineyard. He will also demonstrate how to manage high-carbon composts – such as horse manure or animal bedding – that are slow to decompose into finished compost. Aerated compost bins can be easily built using parts available at most hardware stores and produce finished compost within eight weeks.
11:55 am – 12:05 pm   Break
12:05 – 12:50 pm Live virtual presentation Soil Health: Fact or Fiction?
Dr. Eugenia Pena-Yewtukhiw Director of the West Virginia University Soil Testing Laboratory

Have you ever looked at soil health test results and not known what they mean or what to do with them? Have you wondered which soil health predictors are most useful or what they mean in different environments? What soil health parameters drive changes, and which ones are responders? Eugenia is an expert in soil tests and soil health, and she has studied which tests are most useful for farmers among chemical, physical, and biological measurements. She will help participants think about soil health testing in new ways and identify soil health facts, fiction, and "fuzzy details."
12:50 – 1:00 pm   Break
1:00 – 2:00 pm Hands-on demonstration. Accompanied by coffee and snacks.

Comparing Slake Test Methods 
Dr. Sam Corcoran Postdoc, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Like many scientific assessments, there is more than one method to create a measurement. Sam will lead an experiment where participants compare three aggregate stability methods:

  1. 1. Jar and mesh method used in the NRCS In-field Soil Health Assessment protocol;
  2. 2. Method used by Soil Health Institute using the SLAKES phone app;
  3. 3. Modified laboratory method with wet sieving. At the end of the workshop, participants will understand the similarities and differences between the three tests, their interpretations, and when to use the different methods.
How to Participate: 

Join us for four workshops on Friday, March 24, from 10 AM-2 PM in our Soil Health Mini School.  

For those who cannot attend in person but would like to receive a link to join the live virtual presentations, please indicate on the registration form. 

Registration is now closed.

Please sign up for the waitlist, you will be notified if a space becomes available due to cancellation.

Contact's name: 
Sam Corcoran
Contact's email: 
This event will be recorded: 
111 N Maple St Hadley MA