Monday, November 13, 2006

Sustaining Prime Agricultural Lands: A Discussion of Soil Impacts From Nurseries and Turf Operations.

Lisa Krall1, Deborah Surabian1, Harvey Luce2, Shawn McVey1, James A. Doolittle1, and Donald Parizek3. (1) USDA-NRCS, 329E Merrow Road, Tolland, CT 06084, (2) Univ of Connecticut, 528 Bassetts Bridge Rd, Mansfield Center, CT 06250-4067, (3) USDA - NRCS, 100 Northfield Drive, 4th floor, Windsor, CT 06095

As property values in the Northeast soar and farm owners and operators look for ways to keep land in agriculture, many are converting to the production of landscaping products to improve profitability. Calculated and measured soil loss is over 2” per rotation from ball and burlap cropping. Measurements of loss in a turf operation showed a loss of 10” in 30 years (15 harvests) when compared to an adjacent woodland. Lands experiencing this level of topsoil loss will eventually lose their prime farmland designation due to loss of water holding capacity and other factors. The current or future use of these practices on Northeast farmland presents a challenge for farmland protection program managers, farmers, and conservationists. Our poster will present: Background information on ball and burlap and turf operations in Connecticut and calculations that estimate soil loss, discussion and results of soil assessments using hand dug investigations, and an overview of the feasibility of using soil conductivity, measured by an electro-magnetic induction meter, for mapping and estimating soil loss over large areas. An evaluation of current soil conserving alternatives available to nurseries and turf operations will also be examined.

Handout (.pdf format, 315.0 kb)