Assessing Soil Health

Session II: 1:30pm - 3:00pm

Organic farmers know healthy soils provide a wide range of benefits from reducing runoff and erosion to storing carbon and improving water storage. However, the ability to evaluate the current state of soils has been limited. Traditional soil tests provide limited answers about soil fertility leaving producers to rely on experience and intuition in determining the health of their soil. Join this workshop to learn about USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service tools to evaluate the health of your soil. Participants will engage and use a practical in-field soil health assessment tool with virtual, “in the field” classroom activities.

Speakers: Ben Bowell, Oregon Tilth; Sarah Brown, Oregon Tilth; Jennifer Moore-Kucera, American Farmland Trust; Cory Owens, USDA-NRCS; Connor Voss, Diggin' Roots Farm

Speaker Bios

Ben Bowell (Moderator) is an Organic Education Specialist for Oregon Tilth.  Through his joint position with USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service/NRCS, he provides technical assistance, delivers trainings, and develops technical resources for use by NRCS staff, agricultural professionals, and producers in order to better support conservation work on organic farms. 

 Cory Owens is the NRCS’s State Soil Scientist and Soil Health Co-Coordinator based out of Portland. She leads the technical soil services program across the state including helping farmers, ranchers, and foresters learn how a healthy soil can help them.  Cory completed her undergraduate work in Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University and her graduate work in Soil Science at the University of California, Davis. Her favorite soil is Amity.

Conner Voss lives and farms in Molalla OR. He and his wife Sarah Brown own and operate Diggin' Roots Farm, where they tend 3+ acres of direct market vegetables and steward over 45 acres of mixed pasture, forest, and riparian area on their land. Conner sees life on the farm, in and on the soil, as the arbiter of all decisions, big and small.  Through restoration plantings, conservation practices, and the use of intensive grazing management, Diggin' Roots Farm is attempting to balance production with holistic land stewardship.