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Join us for a series of soil health training webinars this summer

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

The Virginia Soil Health Coalition is hosting a series of webinars with soil health specialist Mark

Schonbeck. The webinars are part of a professional development program grant with Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). Mark has worked for 31 years as a researcher, consultant, and educator in sustainable and organic agriculture. He has participated in on-farm research into mulching, cover crops, minimum tillage, and nutrient management for organic vegetables. For many years, he has written for the Virginia Association for Biological Farming newsletter and served as their policy liaison to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. He has also participated in different research projects to analyze, evaluate and improve federally funded organic and sustainable agriculture programs. In addition, Mark offers individual consulting in soil test interpretation, soil quality and nutrient management, crop rotation, cover cropping, and weed management.

The first two webinars will be held on August 8th from 2-3:30 PM and August 17th from 2-3:30 PM. Each webinar has one DCR contact hour available for continuing education credit. They have also been approved for CEUs through Virginia NRCS. More information on the topics to be discussed in each as well as the link to registration is below. Reach out to Coalition Director, Mary Sketch Bryant at with any questions. Hope to see you there!

Why “Organic” Matters for Soil Health in Virginia:

Soil Organic Matter and USDA Certified Organic Farming

August 8, 2023, 2:00 pm

Throughout the history of the organic agriculture movement, soil organic matter (SOM) has played a central role in the goals and practices of the organic method. The NOP Standards codify this priority, requiring certified producers to implement systems and practices that build SOM and soil health. This webinar will explore the nature of soil organic matter and how it relates to soil health, review recent research that documents the efficacy of organic systems in building and maintaining SOM, and provide guidelines for organic farmers and conservationists on how to fully realize the potential of the organic method to optimize SOM and soil health.

Biological Nutrient Management for Virginia:

Organic Practices to Build Soil Fertility and Protect the Chesapeake Bay

August 17, 2023, 2:00 pm

Organic and natural mineral nutrient sources allowed by the USDA NOP Standards offer both advantages and challenges in meeting crop needs while enhancing soil health and protecting ground and surface water from excess nutrients. Unlike conventional soluble fertilizers that can be metered precisely, organic nutrient sources must undergo biological processing to release nutrients, especially nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to crops. As best organic practices enhance soil health, the soil’s biological capacity to meet crop nutrient without concentrated fertilizers increases. This webinar will explore biologically based nutrient dynamics and provide guidance on how organic producers and conservationists can realize the soil’s potential to sustain production with minimal use of concentrated and potentially polluting nutrient sources.

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