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Healthy Soil Produces Healthy Vegetables

The University of Illinois Extension presents a weekly educational series for the small farm community. This series will provide practical knowledge on emerging topics which advance local food production in Illinois. These online presentations will give small farm producers a look at how leading practices in production, management, and marketing enable operations to improve profitability and sustainability. The complete list of topics and speakers is included below. Webinars will be held from noon -1:00 pm on Thursdays and are free.

Mar. 7 - Healthy Soil Produces Healthy Vegetables, James Theuri, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator

Most vegetables are annuals, and farmers prepare each year by tilling the land, incorporating fertilizer, cultivating to manage weeds, laying plastic mulch, and other activities to enhance crop productivity. Yet, this disturbs soil structure and exposes organic matter and ultimately leads to loss of soil carbon to the atmosphere. Soil organic matter (SOM) is of great importance as a soil health indicator and contributes significantly to nutrient retention and availability in soil, aggregate and water-holding capacity, and nutrient recycling. Healthy soil is a living ecosystem in which SOM forms the base of a food web U9consisting of microscopic and larger organisms. In the natural environment, plants form mutualistic relationships with soil microbes to obtain water, nutrients, and protection against some pathogens, while the plants provide food. The presentation will discuss the soil health concept and recommend some ways of enhancing the quality of soil without using synthetic fertilizers.