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Soil Health Awareness - Unlock the Secrets in the Soil

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Soil is a living and life-giving natural resource. 

As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. By farming using soil health principles and systems that include no-till, cover cropping and diverse rotations, more and more farmers are actually increasing their soil’s organic matter and improving microbial activity. As a result, farmers are sequestering more carbon, increasing water infiltration, improving wildlife and pollinator habitat—all while harvesting better profits and often better yields.

The resources on this soil health section of our site are designed to help visitors understand the basics and benefits of soil health—and to learn about Soil Health Management Systems from farmers who are using those systems.

New: Soil Health Television PSAs

TV PSA Soils Advertisement with a girl holding soilTV ads highlight hope in healthy soil

Recently, NRCS distributed a series of 15- and 30-second public service ads to 1,000 local television stations, the networks, the National Association of Broadcasters, and every state broadcast association in the country to highlight the critical role healthy soil plays in our lives, on our planet and in our future. Click here to view the ads.

Resources for landowners

Soil Health KitLandowners: Get the ‘scoop’ on soil health investment basics

Landowners and farmers across the nation increasingly realize that healthy soils are the key to fostering more productive, profitable and sustainable farms—for healthy, sustainable, long-term returns. This Soil Health Information Starter Kit will provide you with the basics and benefits of soil health, and ideas on how you can work with your farmer to build soil equity by using soil health management systems that include cover crops, diverse rotations and no-till practices. Click here to order your free kit today.

Soil Health Across the Nation

NEW Soil Health map 2014

A growing number of America’s farmers are using soil health management systems to improve the health and function of their soil—and we’re working hand-in-hand with these producers through our technical and financial assistance programs and services to help ensure their success. Click here to use the interactive map and find out what’s happening in your state regarding soil health and learn more about some of the farmers who are unlocking the secrets in the soil.

Jesse Sanchez, Firebaugh, CaliforniaFeatured profile
in soil health

Jesse Sanchez, Firebaugh, California
Read more. Watch the video (3:13).

Soil Health Quiz

SH Banner for Soil HealthUSDA-NRCS – Are you a “Soil Health Scholar?” Find out with our new, on-line quiz!

Healthy soil is fundamental to life. But how much do you really know about it? This fun, 10-question quiz will challenge your knowledge, and will help you discover your soil health I.Q. And, anyone who plays can print out a graduation certificate upon completion. Find out if you’re a “Soil Health Scholar,” a “Soil Healthy Smarty-Pants” or if you “Love the Soil.”

This is one test we think you’ll really dig! Take the quiz . And then share your results with your friends and followers on Facebook or Twitter. It’s fun and informative

Science of Soil Health Videos

Dr. Ray Weil, author of the 15th edition of The Nature and Property of Soils,Tapping into production potential

In many parts of the country, there’s a reservoir of water and nutrients below our cropland’s “legacy plow-pan.” But that dense layer of soil virtually locks out most cash crops from reaching those resources.

So how can farmers tap into that reservoir? Traditionally, plowing deeper was the answer. But plowing is only a temporary fix that requires bigger tractors, more fuel, more time and serves to exacerbate the plow-pan problem over time.

Another solution is to tap into nature. Dr. Ray Weil, author of the 15th edition of The Nature and Property of Soils, explains how cover crops can help farmers naturally reach a treasure trove of production resources below the top few inches of soil in this second of a three part video series. It’s science you can really dig! Watch the video.