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2018-2019 AFT Soil Health Specialist Training

Welcome to the 2018-2019 Soil Health Specialist Training Page!

The Practical Soil Health Specialist Training Program is a NE-SARE funded project of the American Farmland Trust. Project collaborators include New York Soil Health, Cornell Soil Health Laboratory, Cornell University, NRCS, New York Department of Ag and Markets, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell Small Farms Program, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, agri-businesses, and farmers.

This is a 3-year program for 20 agricultural service professionals across New York State. The goal is to establish a network of Practical Soil Health professionals to support and educate farmers to improve soil health on their land. Specialist trainees get an in-depth understanding of what soil health is, how it can be measured and monitored over time, and how soil health can be improved through holistic, adaptive, and data-driven soil management. The training is a series of five, two-day workshops with associated field days. In addition to presentation materials, we have posted project resources to serve as a template for the development of future soil health specialist trainings.

Workshop 1-Soil Health Principles:

01 Introduction to Soil Health

02 Principles and Benefits of Building Healthy Soils

03 Soil Biota and Their Impact on Soil Health

04 Ecological Nutrient Management

05 Quantifying Soil Health

06 Soil Health Management Framework and Planning Process

07 Soil Health Management Scenarios

Project Resources for Workshop 1:

Project Orientation Packet

Participant and Speaker Bios

CASH Report from Farm Visit


Workshop 2-Cropping Systems and Cover Crops:

01 Cover Crop Root Traits

02 Double Cropping with Winter Cereals and Silage Crops

03 Cover Crops in Organic Systems

04 Addressing Soil Health Metrics through Cover Crops

05 Cover Crop Management Scenarios

06 Economic Impacts of Cover Crops on New York Farms

07 Cover Crops and Zone-Till in Organic Vegetables

08 Soil Health Management Effects On CASH Indicators

09 Nitrogen Credits from Cover Crops

Project Resources for Workshop 2:

Project Packet

Speaker and Farmer Bios


Workshop 3-Eliminating, Reducing, or Modifying Tillage for Soil Health:

00 Workshop 3 Introduction

01 Soil Health: History, Geography, and Opportunities in New York State (Video)

02 Farmer Panel with John Kemmeren, Dave Magos, and Jay Swede

03 Pests and Diseases in Corn and Soybean: Management in No-Till Systems

04 Planting Green Research Summary

05 Managing for Healthier Soils and Cleaner Water – Jim Hershey (Video)

06 Farmer Panel with Donn Branton, John Macauley, and Jim Hershey

07 Effects of Reduced Tillage on Beneficial Arthropods

Project Resources for Workshop 3:

Project Packet


Workshop 4-Adaptive Nutrient Management for Soil Health:

01 Introduction to Biochar (Video)

Nutrient Management in Pasture Systems Resources: Beetz, 2002 Nutrient Cyling in Pastures (ATTRA) and Peterson et al 2002 Chapter 4: Nutrient Management in Forage-Livestock Systems

02 Nitrogen Management with Adapt-N: The Soil Health Context (Video)

03 Soil Health Insights from the Hudson Valley Farm Hub

04 Introduction to Stone House Farm and Hudson Carbon

05 Agricultural Management and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

06 Innovations in Agricultural Nutrient Management

Project Resources for Workshop 4:

Project Packet

Speaker and Farmer Bios


Workshop 5- Soil Health Economics and Communication:

01 On-farm Partial Budgeting to Assess Soil Health Practices

02 Economic Case Studies of Soil Health

03 Using the NRCS Cover Crop Economics Decision Support Tool

04 Aspects of Successful Communication and Program Implementation

05 Soil Health Specialist Training Expectations and Support

Project Resources for Workshop 5:

Project Packet

Speaker Bios

4 A’s of Lesson Planning (CCE Handout)    &   Compass Message Box Template Tool

Soil Health Case Studies (AFT and NRCS)  &   Communicating with your landowner Factsheet


Soil Health Demonstration Toolbox:

Handout on Soil Health Slake Test


Webinar 1- Expectations of hosting soil health workshops and providing technical assistance:

SARE AFT Webinar 1 Agenda

SARE AFT Webinar 1 Slides

SARE AFT Outreach and Technical Assistance Tracking Form

SARE AFT Webinar 1 Video

Webinar 2- Cover Crop Mixtures with Dr. Charles White (PSU) and Soil Health Workshop Stipend Requests

SARE AFT Webinar 2 Agenda

SARE AFT Webinar 2 Slides

SARE AFT Stipend Request Form

SARE AFT Expense Form

IRS W9 Form (Required on file with AFT to recieve stipend)

SARE AFT Webinar 2 Video: Dr. Charles White’s Cover Crop Mixtures Talk

Webinar 3- Cornell Soil Health Program Research Update and Check-in

SARE AFT Webinar 3 Agenda

SARE AFT Webinar 3 Slides + What’s Cropping Article on North Carolina Reanalysis

SARE AFT Webinar 3 Video: Cornell Soil Health Program Research Update from Joseph Amsili


References for Practical Soil Specialist Training

Contact Information:

Aaron Ristow, New York Agricultural Stewardship Manager,
Joseph Amsili, Extension Associate with Cornell Soil Health Lab and New York Soil Health,


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