Kristin Poley, SHP Michigan Research Manager, visited with The People of Soil Health podcast host, John Mesko, on how she builds research partnerships that help answer key soil health and water quality questions.
Poley, who grew up on a Christmas tree farm in Southwest Michigan, attended Michigan State University and earned a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. While finishing her master’s degree there, a new program in Nematology and Soil Health began. She took a job as a research technician where she investigated the use of various cover crop species as a method of nematode pest control. She then went on to serve as a teaching assistant before joining SHP.
Poley shares how her current position is made possible through joint support of SHP, the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan and Michigan Nature Conservancy. Her responsibilities in each of the roles differ slightly, but also intersect.
“Our network is so diverse. The agronomic systems themselves might be similar, but the challenges that are faced, and the motivations for change, can be so different from region to region.” Poley said. “The opportunity to study those differences is very exciting to me.”
She hears from farmers that they want local data and told Mesko that most of the trials she conducts with farmers are side-by-side trials, which offer flexibility. Currently, the Michigan sites are looking at two different cover crop mixes as a tool for building soil health, and also, as an additional source of forage for the dairy herds.
Poley and Mesko spoke on the value of having multiple years worth of data to help to detect and explain patterns in the data that can be translated to real world answers that are ultimately better for the farm’s bottom line.
You can learn more Poley’s work at soilhealthpartnership.com.