NRCS Soil Health Campaign Gains Momentum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
NRCS SOIL HEALTH CAMPAIGN GAINS MOMENTUM
Stillwater, OKLA – The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Health Campaign is picking up momentum in Oklahoma. Ray Archuleta, Conservation Agronomist at the NRCS East National Technology Center in Greensboro, North Carolina heads up the national campaign, called “Unlock the Secrets of the Soil.” Archuleta recently made presentations at both the Oklahoma Organic Conference and the Oklahoma No-till Conference. He has said that by using soil health principles to increase soil function, every one percent increase in organic matter results in the land being able to hold 17,000 to 25,000 more gallons of water per acre.
Gary O’Neill, Oklahoma State Conservationist for NRCS, who brought Archuleta to Oklahoma for the two meetings, is also passionate about soil health. At a recent speech before the American Farmers and Ranchers (AFR) State Convention, O’Neill said, “Soil is a living and life-giving substance, without which we would perish. As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. We believe improving the health of our Nation’s soil is one of the most important endeavors of our time.” Four of the key principles make up the soil health management approach include: using plant diversity to increase diversity in the soil, managing soils more by disturbing them less, growing a living root throughout the year, and keeping the soil covered as much as possible.
Oklahoma NRCS recently released their long term Soil Health Strategic Plan and their Annual Plan for this year. The plan calls for the appointment of a State Soil Health Technical Committee that would include producers and conservation partners, utilizing on-farm demonstration projects, and providing training to staff and partners. NRCS has identified soil health teams for each quadrant of the state that will serve as points of contact for identifying training and technical needs of employees, partner employees, and farmers.
O’Neill added, “Soil has always been the foundation of NRCS’s mission. It is my vision to have Oklahoma become a leader in the Southern Plains region on how to best protect this resource while increasing production for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers. To truly achieve long term sustainability of all natural resources and ensure all of Oklahoma’s working agricultural lands are reaching maximum productivity, soil health management systems must become a reality. Oklahoma farmers and ranchers have a rich history of being good conservation stewards. This campaign will provide an opportunity to advance and integrate soil health systems into our everyday conservation strategies.”
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