South Carolina farmers Jason Carter (Richland County, above right) and Carl Coleman (Dillon County, above left) have been named National Soil Health Champions by the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD).
Champions are farmers, ranchers, woodland managers, and other landowners who are willing to use, demonstrate, and share their enthusiasm for soil health practices within their own communities. Champions conduct conservation outreach in cooperation with their local soil and water conservation district (SWCD) by hosting field days and demonstrations, making speeches at public events, and sharing their stories. The Soil Health Champions Network is coordinated by the NACD with funding from a USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant.
Jason Carter of Carter Farms in Eastover, SC has been farming for 21 years and is a leader in progressive farming practices. He began using cover crops to improve soil health on his 400 acre farm four years ago, and his crops have since exhibited increased yield, resiliency, and profitability. As a result of the soil improvements caused by cover cropping, Carter has also been able to reduce his use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. “I’ve seen organic matter increasing about 0.2% per year, and if this continues, I hope to be able to cut my use of commercial fertilizers completely within ten years,” he said during a Farmer Panel at a recent cover crop meeting in Scranton, SC.
Carl Coleman, a farmer and SWCD commissioner in Dillon County who grows wheat, corn, and soybeans, has been using cover crops for five years with tremendous benefits. “We’re seeing less weed pressure, less disease pressure, and we’re applying fewer fungicides. Our pH is not fluctuating so we’ve decreased our lime applications, and we’ve been able to eliminate subsoiling throughout most of the farm,” says Coleman. He has also seen earthworms colonize his fields and is excited by his farm’s dropping production costs.
In cooperation with their SWCDs, Carter and Coleman are advocating for the improvement and preservation of the state’s soil and natural resources through local leadership and outreach. They were recognized for their achievements at the SC Association of Conservation Districts Conservation Partnership Conference in February.
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Conservation Districts are political subdivisions of state government under the local direction of five-member Boards of Commissioners. The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District promotes the wise use of natural resources for the benefit of the citizens of Richland County.
Richland Soil and Water Conservation District
2020 Hampton Street, Room 3063A
Columbia, SC 29204
Phone (803) 576-2080
Fax (803) 576-2088