West Virginia soil conservation specialists want eastern panhandle to have best farming conditions

West Virginia

JEFFERSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WDVM) — West Virginia farm management specialists are working hard to make sure the quality of crops grown in the Mountain State are the best and grown with the most productive agricultural techniques.

Jefferson County soil conservation specialists have been at it for months. It’s dirty work, literally. Getting deep into the soil to determine how microbes are affecting our crops, and subsequently, our food supply.

“We want to make sure that to test the soil health, we want to see microbial activity,” said Amy Henry, conservation specialist. “So that we know that nutrients are being processed correctly for plants to grow.”

And what impacts that microbial behavior? Climate change? Henry and conservation district supervisor Danny Lutz have been experimenting with cotton fibers in the soil to measure erosion. Their findings will help maximize soil fertility.

“To genetically engineer root systems on, especially corn, but soybeans, wheat, oats, the other cereal grains and such,” said Lutz. “So they can penetrate the hard-pan soil.”

The goal is to manage the moisture and nutrients for optimal crop growth.

“We want to show that the more diverse forage you have out in the field,” explained Henry, “the more microbial activity you’re going to have to process your nutrients. That will enable your crops to grow.”

It’s all designed to make crop management profitable and efficient for growers, which ultimately benefits consumers. And these West Virginia conservation specialists will be meeting with farmers this fall.

Dozens of conservation management specialists will converge on Jefferson County next month to share their research, helping to make West Virginia’s farm economy competitive in the mid-Atlantic region.

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