environmental control.Sorting of food waste in the environmental packages.
CT NOFA > Programs > Soil Health

Soil Health

SOIL MICROSCOPY: ZOOMING IN ON HEALTHY SOIL

The Problem

Dangerous levels of carbon in Earth’s atmosphere derive not only from burning fossil fuels, but also from land use changes. Estimates suggest that agriculture is responsible for one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Our Response

Farmers can and must be part of the solution to climate change. With changes to farming, ranching and gardening practices, we can reverse the global trend of soil carbon losses and instead return atmospheric carbon back to the soil. Building soil carbon and soil health increases the profitability and climate resilience of farms by making soils more drought and erosion resistant while reducing input needs. And, it is a climate change mitigation strategy that simultaneously increases the security of our watersheds, ecosystems and food systems.

ORGANIC NO-TILL ON NORTHEAST FARMS: A PRACTICAL EXPLORATION OF SUCCESSFUL METHODS

This project supports the development of a learning community of northeast organic farmers who are integrating reduced and no-till methods currently on their farms, maps out what they are already doing and how it is working, defines what it currently means to be reduced/no-till in the northeast right now, and encourages further innovation, development, and education around these techniques to the wider farming community. The ultimate focus and goal of our investigation is to refine and educate about organic tillage reduction methods.

2024 Microscopy Training

CT NOFA is offering 3 sessions of microscopy training in 2024. Participants will view various soils and composts, looking at the different soil structures and the microbes that thrive in healthy soil. Demonstrations include how to prepare a slide for viewing, what you might find and how to evaluate your findings. Participants will be trained to analyze the following:

  • Bacteria : Fungi ratios – what they mean and why they’re important
  • Aggregate structure in soil/compost
  • Bacteria numbers and diversity
  • Quality of fungi and what that means for your soil
  • Predators – identify and quantify both aerobic and anaerobic microbes
  • Compost tea and extracts – microbial populations that exist in real time

Throughout the training we will discuss ways to create healthy, living soil using regenerative agriculture techniques. At the completion of the training you will be ready to use your microscope to evaluate soil and compost, with the ability to store the information in written and visual form, to share, and compare with future samples.

Training includes:

  • OMAX Digital Compound Microscope (plus slides, slip covers, pipettes, test-tubes, etc.)
  • 3 Live Online Training Sessions (1.5 hours, each)
  • 3 hour In-Person training (3 students per instructor)
  • Virtual support up to 3 months after course, for any questions/clarifications
  • Virtual tutorials (short videos available as reference material after course completion)
NOFA-NY Staff with their new microscopes

2024 Microscopy training

Training includes 3 live virtual sessions and 1 in-person training - see details below

Course cost is $600, which includes a microscope (yours to keep, provided at the in-person session) as well as all course materials.

Virtual LIVE Training

Registrants attend all sessions - Wednesdays in April


April 10

April 17

April 24


All sessions from 5:00pm-6:30pm via Zoom

in-person training

Select ONE training that is convenient to your location. All in-person sessions run from 11:00am-2:00pm


Saturday, May 4th

Common Ground High School: 358 Springside Ave, New Haven, CT


Thursday, May 9th

Mass. Farm Bureau: 249 Lakeside Ave, Marlborough, MA


Saturday, May 18th

Ocean Hour Farm: 152 Harrison Ave, Newport, RI


Saturday, June 1st

Massaro Community Farm: 41 Ford Rd, Woodbridge, CT

THIS SESSION IS FULL


Saturday, June 8th

Falmouth, MA:  location TBD

Please direct questions to Monique Bosch.

Microscopy Testimonials

For me it was a refresher, but I couldn’t have started using a microscope again without this training. So valuable to be able to create a slide that shows the life in the soil, and how to identify the microbes that make up the soil food web. I teach about this all the time when I give presentations on soils to different groups.

Cynthia Rabinowitz (Executive Director, Northwest Conservation District)

In May of 2023, the NOFA-NY education team had the great privilege to participate in soil microscopy training with Monique Bosch through CT-NOFA. The virtual training time let us get familiar with microscopes, learn to identify aggregates, fungal hyphae, nematodes, and some soil structure basics. The in-person training at Bard College was incredible! We found our own soil samples and analyzed them with students from the college, allowing us to test our teaching skills and gain confidence. I highly recommend Monique and this program. I have been able to work with farmers and gardeners now to look at their soil structures and teach them about what they see.

Samantha (NOFA-NY)

At Assawaga Farm, our microscope is an indispensable tool for maintaining and improving our soil's health. We use it to assess the biology of many things on the farm including potting soil, compost, teas, as well as general soil tests from our fields, and it allows us a better understanding of what the soil and crops need to be healthy, productive, and sustainable. Looking at our farm through a microscope opens up a whole new perspective that we use to inform our decisions.

Alex Carpenter (Assawaga Farm, Putnam, CT)

2023 WORKSHOPS

March 2

The event will include an exhibition of low and no-till farm equipment, methods, and results for all scales of farming. Workshops will cover best methods for no-till seeding, crimping, etc., along with cover crop implementation for soil health improvement. The day will include farmer-to-farmer sharing of best practices, so farmers can exchange information on soil health methods that have worked on their farm.

April 29

Join USDA NRCS, CTRCD, and CT NOFA at Green Village Initiative’s Reservoir Community Farm in Bridgeport to learn about support for urban farms and organizations. Leaders in the industry will be on hand to explain ways to get funding for urban farm infrastructure. Tour Reservoir Farm with Executive Director Ellie Angerame as she demonstrates urban farming methods that have proven successful. We hope you’ll join us!

29 de abril

Únase a USDA NRCS, CTRCD y CT NOFA en Reservoir Community Farm de Green Village Initiative en Bridgeport para obtener información sobre el apoyo a las organizaciones y granjas urbanas. Los líderes de la industria estarán disponibles para explicar las formas de obtener fondos para la infraestructura agrícola urbana. Visite Reservoir Farm con la directora ejecutiva Ellie Angerame mientras demuestra métodos de agricultura urbana que han demostrado ser exitosos. ¡Esperamos que te unas a nosotros!

2022 WORKSHOPS

permaculture with sefra alexandra

September 2nd, 2022

Soil Health at Hillandale Farm

October 27th, 2022

2021 WORKSHOPS

Sub-Edge Farm Field Day

May 25th, 2021

Assawaga Farm Field Day

September 20th, 2021

2020 WORKSHOPS

Assawaga Farm Field Day

May 30th, 2020

Massaro Community Farm Field Day

September 29th, 2020

2019 WORKSHOPS

CT RC&D No-till and Cover Crop Pilot Project

Thank you to the generous donors and funding partners in this work