by Steve Richter, agricultural strategies director, The Nature Conservancy
Members of Peninsula Pride Farms complete a survey each winter to gauge interest in soil health practices. It’s an annual recap of the number of farmers using conservation practices on their fields and a tally of total acres of each practice. In this article, I’ll share some highlights from 2019. In your next newsletter, I will talk more specifically about how the practices farmers are using are keeping soil and phosphorus from entering our waters.
I first want to say that it was great to see the progress that member farmers made in 2019 trying new practices and increasing the acres of other conservation practices, as well as the robust attendance figures seen at field days and winter meetings. Congrats to all of you who hosted or attended an event and/or used conservation practices in 2019! One take-away I had from reviewing the numbers is that more farmers are using conservation practices, and the total number of acres increased.
Peninsula Pride farmers saw a 18,154-acre increase in nutrient management plans and a 3,129-acre increase in the use of low-disturbance manure injection from 2016 to 2019. There were more than 77,000 acres under nutrient management plans and over 8,000 acres were planted with no-till in 2019. The 10,219 acres of cover crops planted by Peninsula Pride members in 2019 is a boost of 5,935 acres from 2016. One other practice really taking off is the use of splitting application of nitrogen fertilizer. More than 25,000 acres were planted this way in 2019, an increase of over 10,000 acres from 2016.
It’s great to see so many farmers completing the annual survey. The numbers demonstrate the effort farmers are making to improve soil health and reduce soil and nutrients leaving fields.