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Cotton & Covers: Southeastern Farmers Share Their Soil Health Journey

Three Southeastern cotton producers discuss their journeys to build soil health management systems.

Published 08-31-20

Submitted by The Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, has introduced a new video series Cotton & Covers. The series follows three Southeastern cotton producers as they discuss their individual journeys to build profitable soil health management systems on their farms. Each producer is a mentor to other farmers in SHI’s soil health training program, working with other farmers to expand their knowledge of soil health systems and overcome barriers to adoption.

New videos will be announced weekly through September, according to David Lamm, Project Manager of Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton. The series will be publicly available on SHI’s YouTube Channel and Soil Health Training webpage.

“These farmer mentors, who are working with cotton producers in their state to build soil health management systems on their farms, have fascinating stories to tell,” Lamm explains. “Their observations, as they reduced tillage and added multi-species cover crops, provide insight that will be useful to others who are either just starting the journey or are well on their way to improve the health of their soils.” 

The series features Sonny Price from Dillon, South Carolina; Zeb Winslow from Scotland Neck, North Carolina; and Burton Heatwole from Millen, Georgia. The cotton producers discuss why they decided to explore soil health promoting practices and the benefits they’ve discovered as they experimented with reduced tillage, increased cover crop species diversity, and livestock grazing.

“Being able to take care of your soil, and let your soil take care of you…that’s the road we’re headed down,” explains Heatwole, who adopted a soil health management system to increase soil organic matter and water infiltration on his Georgia farm.

The video series is part of the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton project, which uses farmer-to-farmer networks in providing farmer-focused education and training  delivered by SHI scientists, partnering with local soil health technical specialists and farmer mentors who have implemented successful soil health management systems. The project aims to increase adoption of soil health systems among cotton producers while documenting environmental and economic benefits. 

Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton is supported through the generosity of the Wrangler® brand, the VF Corporation Foundation and the Walmart Foundation. For more information about the project and access to the webinar series, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/soil-health-training/.

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About the Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute (www.soilhealthinstitute.org) is a non-profit whose mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. The Institute works with its many stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.

About Wrangler®

Wrangler® apparel is available nationwide in mass market retailers, specialty stores, including work apparel chains, farm & fleet, and western stores, as well as through online and catalog retailers. To find a retailer or for more information on the Wrangler family of products, visit Wrangler.com or call 888.784.8571.

About VF Corporation

VF Corporation outfits consumers around the world with its diverse portfolio of iconic lifestyle brands, including Vans®, The North Face®Timberland®, Wrangler® and Lee®. Founded in 1899, VF is one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies with socially and environmentally responsible operations spanning numerous geographies, product categories and distribution channels. VF is committed to delivering innovative products to consumers and creating long-term value for its customers and shareholders. For more information, visit www.vfc.com.

About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart.org represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By leaning in where the business has unique strengths, Walmart.org works to tackle key social issues and collaborate with others to spark long-lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 27 countries, employs more than 2 million associates and does business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org is helping people live better by supporting programs that work to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, address hunger and make healthier, more sustainably grown food a reality, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit www.walmart.org or connect on Twitter @Walmartorg.

For more information, please contact:

David Lamm Project Manager

Phone: 336-613-8322

Fax: 919-878-3939

Camille Hesterberg Communications and Administrative Specialist

Phone: 828-406-4018

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The Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute's (www.soilhealthinstitute.org) mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. An evolution of the Soil Renaissance, an initiative established in 2013 by the Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation to advance soil health and make it the cornerstone of land use management decisions, the Soil Health Institute serves as the primary resource for soil health information.

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