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Soil Health Workshop Showcases 20,000 Worms in Conservation District


Sep 9, 2023

The Eagle County Conservation District recently hosted a workshop on soil health at the Gerard family ranch in Gypsum. The workshop aimed to educate community members about using new techniques to farm and ranch more effectively. The Gerards, who have been ranchers in Eagle County for four generations, have implemented many of the conservation district’s practices with great success, making their ranch the perfect location for the workshop.

Each year, the conservation district holds a larger event to allow community members to learn more about the work it is doing. Last year’s event was a ranch tour of a property that implemented the district’s programs. This year’s workshop included various activities, such as a demonstration of the effect of rainfall on soil, an introduction to compost tea, a talk about worm farming, and a hands-on in-field soil health assessment.

During the workshop, participants learned about the importance of recognizing and caring for the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil. Healthy soil provides numerous benefits, including clean air and water, successful crop harvests, and erosion prevention. The workshop introduced the five principles of soil health, which are keeping the ground covered, minimizing soil disturbance, allowing for plant and animal diversity, maintaining continual living plant roots, and integrating livestock.

One of the highlights of the workshop was Jennifer Jones’ introduction to worm composting. Jones, a rancher at Colorado River Ranch, shared her experience of using worms to improve the health of her fields. She started with 600 pounds of worms, which have since multiplied to approximately 20,000 pounds. Jones explained how the addition of worm compost improved the health of her fields and reduced the infestation of harmful bugs.

The workshop also included an in-field soil health assessment, allowing participants to put their new knowledge into practice. Attendees tested for conditions such as soil compaction and infiltration. They learned that qualitative assessments can provide valuable information about the health of the soil and the type of aid it might need.

The Eagle County Conservation District plays a crucial role in connecting landowners in Eagle County to resources and education for improving their land and conserving natural resources. The district offers various programs and initiatives, such as virtual fencing, sustainable farming materials rental, seed distribution, turf replacement, irrigation system rebates, and a weed cost-sharing program. The district aims to support landowners of all types and sizes, from large ranchers to condo owners.

In its pursuit of long-term funding for providing services to the people of Eagle County, the conservation district is considering introducing a potential tax. The district hopes to bring this mill levy question to voters on the November 2024 ballot. The funds generated from this tax would be invested back into the community’s soils, water conservation, and properties, providing a sustainable source of support for the district’s work.

By Editor

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