What is “soil friendly” eating?

There you are at your local grocery store. Maybe you have a shopping list and maybe you don't. Perhaps you're already hungry or are pressed for time. Maybe someone in your household has a food allergy or is on a special diet. The store may be offering promotions or featuring particular products. These are just … Continue reading What is “soil friendly” eating?

How can I help my soil hold more carbon?

There are some practical things you can do in your home or yard to trap some of the carbon from the atmosphere. In our gardens and with our lawns, what we do can make a difference in how the plants and soil interact. And using best practices, in the long-term, can reduce greenhouse gases, and … Continue reading How can I help my soil hold more carbon?

Why do the Loess Hills of Iowa need to be farmed in terraces?

Soil formed in loess, or wind-blown silt, is great for farming. Its soft texture contributes to its productivity, but also increases its susceptibility to erosion. To combat this issue, farmers implement many practices to ensure vulnerable soils are protected from wind, water, and gravity. Let’s dig into this substance called loess, and explore the Loess … Continue reading Why do the Loess Hills of Iowa need to be farmed in terraces?

Why are there regulations on manure use for food safety?

Regulation on manure and food safety is helping growers and consumers alike. Manure, quite plainly, is animal refuse. It’s not the same as human refuse, because cows, horses, sheep, etc. eat a plant-based diet. This means their wastes are made mostly of digested grains and forage grasses. And that manure contains a lot of nutrients … Continue reading Why are there regulations on manure use for food safety?

The Irish Potato Famine – could it happen again?

Ireland wasn’t always dependent on potatoes, but in the decades leading up to the famine, more farmers started growing potatoes. As a crop, potatoes are inexpensive and high-yielding. As a food, they are packed with calories and nutrients. The Irish potato famine occurred in the mid-1800s, the result of a fungal disease. Let’s look at … Continue reading The Irish Potato Famine – could it happen again?

What is “vermicompost”?

Composting is a great way to help the environment. Composting reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. It also produces a great amendment to your garden soil. There are two main types of home composting: thermophilic composting and vermicomposting. Traditionally, composting refers to thermophilic composting, which is merely composting using the natural heat produced … Continue reading What is “vermicompost”?

What are the benefits of growing multiple types of forage grasses for grazing animals?

Although it might seem like grazing animals will eat any grass in the field, they are actually picky eaters. They prefer a “buffet” of grass choices. And while it’s good for the grazing animals, growing a variety of forage plants in the field also benefits the plants, the soil, and the environment. Most of their … Continue reading What are the benefits of growing multiple types of forage grasses for grazing animals?

Soils and your Thanksgiving meal

As you sit around your Thanksgiving table this year, we thought we’d give you some ideas about current research topics that help bring you your dinner. In addition to the growers who tended your food, perhaps you’ll also be thankful for the research scientists working behind the scenes to help us have a sustainable food … Continue reading Soils and your Thanksgiving meal

Do plants and soil really ‘talk’?

Well, it depends upon how we define ‘talk,' doesn’t it? Surely most folks are aware that plants are not articulate in the sense that they could recite Shakespeare’s 18th Sonnet to the soil beneath them: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” A sonnet-quoting tomato. Original illustration by Jake Mowrer provided with permission for … Continue reading Do plants and soil really ‘talk’?

How do the “three sister” plants work together?

The three sisters planting – corn, beans, and squash – is a perfect example of companion planting! Imagine three sisters in a family. In an ideal world, they would be great companions, cooperating and supporting each other. Each sister would bring along a unique contribution to the trio—perhaps one sister is the leader, another sister … Continue reading How do the “three sister” plants work together?