Funding will pay for soil testing at 25 farms

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 October 2014 at 12:00 am

ALBION – A state grant will pay for advanced soil testing at 25 farms in Orleans County, a project intended to help farmers boost yields and better utilize fertilizer and resources for soil health.

Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District received a $20,674 grant from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. It will contract with BCA Ag Technologies to do the samples and take them to Cornell for testing.

Dennis Kirby, the Soil and Water district manager, would like to do the soil sampling in the spring. He welcomes interested farmers to call Soil and Water at 585-589-5959 to inquire about participating in the project.

Kirby would like to have a cross-section of farms of different sizes and crop types across the county.

The samples will provide a baseline for soil health. The goal is to improve soil health so farmers can maximize their yields while maintaining optimum soil health and reducing the impact of farming practices on the environment.

The soil tests will an expansion of the typical soil tests done at farms, Kirby said. The Cornell Soil Health test emphasizes the integration of biological and physical measurements along with the chemical measurements done in the existing test.

Soil and Water will look at water holding capacity, organic matter content and soil microbial activity. The report card on the soil will point to the best soil management practices.