Cotton Sustainability: 3 Southeast Farmers Share Their Soil Health Journeys

Photo: Denise Attaway, Clemson University

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, will release Cotton & Covers, a Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton video series, August 20, 2020. The series follows three Southeastern cotton producers as they discuss their individual journeys to build profitable soil health management systems on their farms.

Each producer is a mentor to other farmers in SHI’s soil health training program, working with other farmers to expand their knowledge of soil health systems and to overcome barriers to adoption.

New videos will be made available weekly through September, according to David Lamm, Project Manager of Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton. The series will be publicly available on SHI’s YouTube Channel and Soil Health Training webpage.

“These farmer mentors, who are working with cotton producers in their state to build soil health management systems on their farms, have fascinating stories to tell,” Lamm explains. “Their observations, as they reduced tillage and added multi-species cover crops, provide insight that will be useful to others who are either just starting the journey or are well on their way to improve the health of their soils.”

The series features Sonny Price from Dillon, South Carolina; Zeb Winslow from Scotland Neck, North Carolina; and Burton Heatwole from Millen, Georgia. The cotton producers discuss why they decided to explore soil health promoting practices and the benefits they’ve discovered as they experimented with reduced tillage, increased cover crop species diversity, and livestock grazing.

“Being able to take care of your soil, and let your soil take care of you…that’s the road we’re headed down,” explains Heatwole, who adopted a soil health management system to increase soil organic matter and water infiltration on his Georgia farm.

The video series is part of the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton project, which provides farmer-focused education and training events delivered by SHI scientists, partnering with local soil health technical specialists and farmer mentors who have implemented successful soil health management systems.

The project aims to increase the adoption of soil health management systems among cotton producers while documenting environmental and economic benefits.

Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton is supported through the generosity of the Wrangler brand, the VF Corporation Foundation and the Walmart Foundation. For more information about the project and access to the webinar series, visit here.




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