The Dirt on Soil Health: What Did the Evaluation Say?

Ohio State University Extension developed The Dirt on Soil Health: Investing Below the Surface webinar series this past winter.  The eight-week program featured Extension professionals, industry representatives, and farmers as presenters.  Topics included:

A program survey evaluation of participants was conducted at the end of the webinar series. A total of 102 responses were recorded; around half of the responses were from farmers. Highlights of farmer responses are provided below. (Other responses were from nonprofit educators and crop consultants and showed similar trends).

What are your goals in improving soil health?

Goals

Percentage

Increase biological activity

76.4%

Increase profit

74.4%

Improve water retention

69.8%

Decrease erosion

65.1%

Reduce weeds/pests

60.5%

Increase yield

60.5%

Reduce fertilizer cost

60.5%

What soil health practices are you using or plan to use?

Practice

Percentage Using

Percentage Who Plan to Use

Soil testing

87.9%

6.0%

Reduced tillage

90.3%

6.5%

Cover crops

61.8%

20.6%

Manure/compost

51.9%

7.4%

Diverse crop rotation

41.4%

6.9%

Intercropping

10.3%

24.1%

What specific topics do you suggest for future programming?

Responses to this question can be grouped into the following five themes:

  1. Carbon
  2. Cover crops
  3. Soil and fertility
  4. Biologicals
  5. Economics

A few quotes from participants are provided below:

  • “Great job by all the presenters and the moderators keeping it going.”
  • “The webinars I watched were extremely well conducted and very helpful presenters.  I want to watch more recordings.  Great job!”
  • “Best series of winter meetings.”

We value the input received from the evaluation and will use this information to plan future OSU Extension programs on the important topics identified. We appreciate those who attended or watched a recording of the soil health series.  Recordings of each session are available on the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops webpage at: https://agcrops.osu.edu/events/webinar-recordings.

Lean more about current on-farm research focused on soil health on pages 222-225 in the 2020 eFields Report at https://digitalag.osu.edu/efields/efields-reports or by contacting your local county Extension office.  Additional information about soil health is available at https://soilhealth.osu.edu/

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.