AFT trains practical soil health specialists

American Farmland Trust

Participants begin 3-year training program to assist farmers with soil health

American Farmland Trust has announced the selection of 20 participants for “Practical Soil Health Specialists,” a training program for private and public agricultural service providers working with farmers and farmland owners to promote healthy soil.

The three-year program is coordinated through a collaboration between American Farmland Trust and Cornell University’s Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health Laboratory. The series of workshops and field visits aims to strengthen the network of agricultural professionals across New York who can assist farmers in making real-world decisions to enhance the health of their soil.


“Healthy soil is a key asset for farmers; it’s more resilient to extreme weather and can improve a farmer’s bottom line by decreasing input costs and increasing yields. Fully functioning soil can also sequester carbon and protect water quality – so healthy soil is important to everyone,” says David Haight, New York state director for American Farmland Trust. “However, many farmers struggle with integrating new practices, such as cover crops or reduced tillage, into their management systems. Having a trained specialist who they can turn to for help can make a big difference in the success of these practices.”

“Practical Soil Health Specialists” will receive in-depth training in the classroom and in the field on topics ranging from soil biology and soil physics to soil health economics and communication skills. Upon completion of the training, participants have committed to hosting a soil health field day or providing technical assistance to at least five farmers in their region.


“Practical Soil Health Specialists” participants include:
• Debbie Aller, ag stewardship specialist, Suffolk County CCE
• Lorie Ames, crop technician, WNYCMA
• Lynn Bliven, issue leader, Allegany County CCE
• Brian Boerman, senior agronomist, Agricultural Consulting Services
• AnnMarie Calabro, district technician, Suffolk County SWCD
• Daniel Eggert, organic brand manager, Harris Seeds
• Matthew Entwistle, sales, CaroVail
• Corey Ernisse, sales/marketing, Liquid Products, LLC
• Morgan Hartman, organic dairy and livestock coordinator, NOFA
• Tucker Kautz, water resource technician, Ontario SWCD
• Kevin Keenan, precision farming specialist, Growmark FS
• Darleen Krisher-Meehan, owner, Country Crossroads Feed and Seeds
• Jodi Letham, field crops specialist, NWNY Dairy Livestock and Field Crops Team
• Paul Loomis, organic markets coordinator, NOFA
• Bryan Lord, sales, Carolina Eastern-Crocker
• Heidi Lott, consultant, Blowers Agra Services, Inc.
• Cliff Love, nutrient management specialist, Tompkins County SWCD
• Rod Porter, sales and support, Kings AgriSeeds
• Patricia Ristow, consultant, Agricultural Consulting Services
• Katherine Vail, field scout, CaroVail

Program development for the “Practical Soil Health Specialists” training is guided by a steering committee comprised of representatives from American Farmland Trust, Cornell University, Cooperative Extension, Cornell Small Farms Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil and Water Conservation Districts and representatives from the agribusiness community.

This program is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number ENE18-153-32231, and with support from the members of American Farmland Trust.

American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since 1980, AFT’s innovative work has helped to permanently protect more than 6.5 million acres of farmland and ranchland and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more. No Farms, No Food. Learn more at