USDA-NRCS, Virginia Cooperative Extension and VABF have teamed up with film makers Eleanor Goodrich and Aaron Port to tell the stories of diverse Virginia farmers who are focused on implementation of soil health management principles.

videos on soil health on Virginia farms

videos about soil health on organic farms

Virginia’s best farmers share a passion for managing and understanding their soils, no matter their farm style, scale or production system. This dedication to improving soil health and stewardship is the “Common Ground” that unites all farmers!

Enjoy these videos and share with your farming friends and neighbors! (to watch each video, click on the white triangle in black box)

Please pass out our new Common Ground Flyer to help spread the word about Common Ground!

Growing Money and Soil at Potomac Vegetable Farms

USDA-NRCS, Virginia Cooperative Extension and VABF have teamed up to tell the story of another Virginia farmer with a passion for improving her soil. This movie package focuses on the challenge of maintaining soil health while using tillage for efficient vegetable production. In the main profile movie, Ellen Polishuk shares how healthy soil and profitability go hand in hand at Potomac Vegetable Farms, an “ecoganic” vegetable operation in Purcellville, Virginia. Multiple associated technical clips explore the innovative blend of specialized equipment and soil building techniques that Ellen uses to offset the adverse effects that tillage can have on soil health. The entire movie package can be accessed on this YouTube Page.

 

Intensive Composting at Potomac Vegetable Farms

Virginia vegetable producer Ellen Polishuk has two decades of experience making top-quality compost.  In this technical clip, she explains her high-intensity windrow composting system that converts raw ingredients into finished product in just 10 weeks.  Be sure to watch the associated profile video that provides an overview of Ellen’s soil management strategy, as well as the other technical clips with details about her other soil-enhancing practices.

 

Hay Mulch for Vegetables and Soil at Potomac Vegetable Farms

Farmer Ellen Polishuk devotes an exceptional amount of money and effort to mulching her vegetables with hay imported from off the farm.  In this technical clip, Ellen explains how this investment pays many dividends in her profitable production system.  Be sure to watch the associated profile video that provides an overview of Ellen’s soil management strategy, as well as the other technical clips with details about her other soil-enhancing practices.

 

The “Vacation Year” Cover Crop Rotation at Potomac Vegetable Farms

Virginia farmer Ellen Polishuk strives to build her ground by following each season in vegetables with three seasons in cover crop.  In this technical clip, Ellen explains how this rotation helps her produce better soil, crops, and profits.  Be sure to watch the associated profile video that provides an overview of Ellen’s soil management strategy, as well as the other technical clips with details about her other soil-enhancing practices.

 

Overseeding Cover Crops into Fall Vegetables at Potomac Vegetable Farms

Farmer Ellen Polishuk wants a cover crop on every acre every winter, but her fall vegetables are harvested too late to be followed with a cover crop planting.  In this technical clip, Ellen explains how she overcomes this challenge by seeding crimson clover over the top of her growing brassicas.  Be sure to watch the associated profile video that provides an overview of Ellen’s soil management strategy, as well as the other technical clips with details about her other soil-enhancing practices.

 

Flail Mowing Cover Crops at Potomac Vegetable Farms

Virginia farmer Ellen Polishuk continuously feeds her vegetable ground with lots of high-biomass cover crops.  But how does she manage all that residue?  In this technical clip, Ellen explains why the flail mower is an essential tool in her high-residue system.  Be sure to watch the associated profile video that provides an overview of Ellen’s soil management strategy, as well as the other technical clips with details about her other soil-enhancing practices.

 

Soil Spading for Gentle Tillage at Potomac Vegetable Farms

“Ecoganic” farmer Ellen Polishuk relies on tillage for efficient vegetable production, but she considers it a “necessary evil.”  In this technical clip, Ellen explains how her soil spader helps offset some of the negative effects of tillage on soil structure and health.  Be sure to watch the associated profile video that provides an overview of Ellen’s soil management strategy, as well as the other technical clips with details about her other soil-enhancing practices.

 

First Series: Laughing Water Farm in Marion, Virginia

Our first series of short films features Antoinette Goodrich of Laughing Water Farm in Marion, Virginia.  Antoinette is a farmer/rancher who farms 260 acres with an open mind and no synthetic chemicals. In the farm profile, Antoinette describes the importance of soil health on her farm. In the associated technical clips, she explains some of the practices she uses to get the job done.

Please pass out our Common Ground Flyer to help spread the word about Common Ground!

Proceeding with an Open Mind

Assessing No-Till

Retiring the rototiller in order to minimize soil disturbance and maximize soil health is a key goal at Laughing Water Farm in Marion, VA.  Farmer Jason Von Kundra describes the trade-offs and benefits of choosing no-till for sustainable farming.

Chickens in the Cow Pasture

Diversifying the farm with chickens can provide many benefits besides eggs and meat.  In this clip, Antoinette Goodrich of Laughing Water Farm in Marion, VA describes how free-range chickens help improve her soil and her grass-fed cattle production operation at Laughing Water Farm in Marion, VA.

Winter-Killed Crimson Clover Cover

Antoinette Goodrich of Laughing Water Farm in Marion, VA is experimenting with cover crop strategies to minimize tillage, plastic mulch, and weeds in her vegetable production system.  In this clip, Antoinette describes an innovative approach for using winter-killed crimson clover as a mulch for early spring vegetable crops.

Stockpile Grazing

Making and storing hay for winter feed is a labor- and fuel-intensive job on Virginia cattle farms.  Antoinette Goodrich of Laughing Water Farm in Marion, VA describes how she uses strategic grazing management to feed her cattle on pasture for much of the year while making the farm more profitable and sustainable.

Organic and No-Till

Antoinette Goodrich of Laughing Water Farm in Marion, VA grows vegetables without synthetic inputs.  Like many farmers committed to soil health, she is also urgently searching for ways to grow vegetables with less tillage.  In this clip, Antoinette shares some of her experiences, including both successes and failures, trying to grow vegetables with minimal soil disturbance.

 

2014 VA Soil HealthImproving soil health means implementing the following principles:

  1. Keep Soil Covered

  2. Minimize Soil Disturbance (tillage, compaction, chemicals, etc.)

  3. Maximize Living Roots

  4. Energize with Diversity (of plants, animals, and enterprises)

 

For more info on managing soil health in Virginia: click on the icon or contact:  chris.lawrence@va.usda.gov