Better cotton starts with better soil. Growers can learn how to improve what’s underfoot at a joint meeting with Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton and the Arkansas Soil Health Alliance on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at McGehee.


Attendance is free. The meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hoots BBQ, 2008 U.S. 65, according to a news release.


While geared toward cotton producers, all farmers are invited to attend. Lunch will be provided.


“Soil is more than just an anchor for plants,” said Matt Fryer, extension soil health instructor for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “It’s a matrix that provides nutrients and water, all supported by a complex system of microbes, fungi and soil organisms such as earthworms.


“Maintaining the health of this system is key to growing healthy and sustainable crops,” he said.


The joint meeting will include a farmer panel, lunch speaker and on-farm tour that will help cotton growers evaluate and improve the impact of strong soil health management systems, according to the release.


The agenda includes: 8:30-9 a.m. Registration and Coffee; 9 a.m. Welcome and Introductions; Robby Bevis, Arkansas Soil Health Alliance president; Mike Sullivan, Arkansas State Conservationist, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service;


9:10-9:40 a.m. Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton Project David Lamm, Soil Health Institute; 9:40-10:10 Soil Health Benefits, Willie Durham, soil health specialist USDA NRCS;


10:10-10:40 a.m. How to Effectively Apply for NRCS Funding; Jena Moore, assistant state conservationist for programs, USDA NRCS; 10:40-10:50 a.m. Break; 10:50-11:20 a.m. Water Use Dynamics with Cover Crops; Mike Hamilton – extension irrigation instructor, NRCS and Division of Agriculture;


11:20 .m. to noon Arkansas Producer Panel; Sam Whitaker, Steve Stevens, Robby Bevis; Facilitator: Matt Fryer, extension soil health instructor, Division of Agriculture; 12:00-1:00 Lunch; Utilizing Cover Crops on my Farm; Adam Chappell, Arkansas farmer;


1:30-3 p.m. Stevens/Kirkpatrick Farm Tour; 240 Stevens Road, Tillar, AR; Equipment overview, Steve Stevens; Soil Health Sampling and Discussion, Matt Fryer, extension soil health instructor, Division of Agriculture; Steve Green, professor of soils and water, Arkansas State University.


“Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton” is supported through the Wrangler® brand, the VF Corporation Foundation, and the Walmart Foundation. The integrated Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton and Arkansas Soil Health Alliance Annual Meeting was created by the Arkansas Soil Health Alliance.


Attendees are asked to register for the meeting by calling Debbie Moreland at 1-501-425-2891.


To learn more about soil health, contact Matt Fryer at mfryer@uaex.edu or 501-671-2176. To learn more about Arkansas row crop production, call a county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu. Follow the Cooperative Extension Service on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.


For more information, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/soil-health-training/.


The mention of commercial and brand names does not imply endorsement by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.