South Centers leads the Ohio State University Extension Signature Program: Healthy Soil – Healthy Environment

Vinayak Shedekar, Research Associate

The Healthy Soil – Healthy Environment is an Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Signature Program launched in July 2016 that will create a Soil Health Education and Outreach Network comprised of OSU researchers, Extension educators and 4-H educators. Vinayak Shedekar, OSU South Centers Research Associate and Alan Sundermeier, Wood County Extension Educator co-lead the program. Dr. Rafiq Islam, Brad Bergefurd, and Dr. Dan Remley from OSU South Centers are also members of the team.

The new signature program intends to serve a variety of clientele including: all farmers (traditional, organic, no-till, sustainable or low-put), landowners, 4-H members and youth, urban gardeners (youth and adults), Master Gardeners, crop consultants, ag retailers, salesmen, underserved populations, non-profit organizations, and the general public. The program’s long-term goal is to help improve Ohio’s Soil Health and Environment by educating farmers, youth, and the general public. Over the past half century, OSU researchers have a developed a plethora of knowledge and practical solutions farmers can use to better manage their soils. Examples include the long-term no-till studies in Wooster, cover crop studies in Piketon, and the long-term soil drainage and compaction research at Hoytville. This vast knowledge base will be made available to the stakeholders through the Healthy Soil – Healthy Environment program.

Maintaining a healthy and productive soil is the foundation of sustainable agriculture. However, a majority of producers, youth in agriculture, and urban gardeners are unaware of the importance and ways to manage soil health. The OSU Healthy Soil – Healthy Environment signature program is intended to bridge this knowledge gap, by providing knowledge and tools, and educational curricula related to soil health and its assessment under different agricultural management settings. The program will develop factsheets and other educational materials, conduct in-service training, workshops and field days focused on sustainable soil management practices, and develop curriculum that could be incorporated into state-wide 4-H and youth-education programs.

The program team also includes OSU soil scientists Warren Dick, Nick Basta, Rafiq Islam, and Steve Culman, and OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources and 4-H educators Clifton Martin (Muskingum County), Dr. Robert Horton (Columbus), Jason Hendrick (Putnam County) and Sarah Noggle (Paulding County), Michael Schweinsberg (Paulding County), and Les Ober (Geauga County).

Program website: soilhealth.osu.edu

Twitter: @OhioSoilHealth