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Soil Health and Sustainability for Field Staff (000050)


This training is designed to provide field level conservationists and resource soil scientists with an overall understanding of soil health and sustainability principles to guide them with recommendations for land management. The training can be tailored by landuse or specialty emphasis area using modules for cropland, pasture, range, eastern forests, sod and nursery crops, organic specialty crops, and/or salinity and sodicity. Upon completion of this course participants will be able to evaluate soil health, have an understanding of soil quality/soil health indicators and their relationship to onsite/offsite effects of management; communicate soil health concerns to employees, partners and land managers through conservation technical assistance and planning that complies with national policy; and apply soil health and sustainability principles and conservation technology holistically to supply safe, healthy and abundant food and fiber and sustain ecosystem functions on agricultural lands.


Upon completion of this training, participants will be able to:

  1. Define or describe soil health terms and basic concepts to develop an understanding of the soil ecosystem, soil biology,  and soil functions;
  2. Discuss soil chemical, physical, and biological properties and the soil functions they affect;
  3. Evaluate and compare management practices for limiting physical and chemical disturbance;
  4. Apply agroecology technologies that build or degrade soil function
  5. Be knowledgeable of soil features that indicate good soil health using field observations;
  6. Use farmer input (goals) and background data to initiate inventory and assessment of soil resources;
  7. Analyze collected data to identify soil health problems and priorities for improvements;
  8. Understand how improving soil health improves productivity and profitability;
  9. Understand the costs of poor soil health on air and water quality; and
  10. Use soil health demonstrations to promote conservation. 


Background knowledge of soils


2.5 – 3 days, depending on the selection of an optional module

Target Audience

NRCS staff in the 400 & 800 Series and Partners, particularly those involved in resource inventory and conservation planning with land managers or assessment of dynamic soil properties for soil survey.

NEDC Contact

Dean Prine

Technical Specialist

David Lamm


Go to AgLearn to request enrollment in Soil Health and Sustainability for Field Staff (NRCS-NEDC-000050).