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The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the University of Missouri (MU) are hosting a free Soil Health Exposition August 9-10. The exposition will be at MU's Bradford Research and Extension Center (4968 Rangeline Road), about six miles east of Columbia.

The two-day exposition will feature vendors, tours, demonstrations and two nationally known leaders in the use of cover crops. MU professors and technicians from a soil health laboratory established by MU and NRCS will have a training session each day on how to sample fields for soil health and how to interpret the results of soil samples that landowners send to the lab.

The exposition features an open admission, with events occurring from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day. A complete itinerary is available for viewing online at under "Events & Deadlines."

Steve Groff will speak at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday, August 9. He and his family farm 200 acres of vegetables and crops on hilly land in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He pioneered the permanent cover cropping system which includes utilizing no-tillage, cover crops and effective crop rotations to increase profits, enhance soil and water quality, and reduce the use of pesticides. The cornerstone of his system is an emphasis on maintaining crop residues and cover crops on the soil surface and having plants living in the soil at all times. Some of his fields have not been touched by tillage equipment in more than 30 years.

Joel Gruver will speak at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 10. He discovered his fascination with crops and soils while growing up on a family farm in rural Maryland. He has taught courses related to soil science and agroecology at several universities and colleges. He is an assistant professor at Western Illinois University, and he also manages an 80-acre research farm. His recent research has focused on cover crops and their value in suppressing weeds, improving nutrient cycling, building organic matter and alleviating soil compaction.

Admission to the exposition is free, but attendees are asked to preregister by calling (573) 884-7945, sending a text message to (660) 351-4696 or an email to Provide a name and the expected number of people in the group. Lunch will be available for purchase on site.


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