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Soil Health Awareness - Unlock the Secrets in the Soil

Soil Title - Awareness

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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. So much so that we believe improving the health of our Nation’s soil is one of the most important conservation endeavors of our time.

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.

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.

Rabinowitz Photo

Featured profile
in soil health

Ruth Rabinowitz, Iowa
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Soil Health Announcements

Cover Crop Economics Decision Support Tool

Need help making cover cropping decisions? There's an NRCS tool for that!

In providing an analysis, the Cover Crop Economics Decision Support Tool provides to the farmer potential direct nutrient credits; input reductions; yield increases and decreases; seed & establishment costs; erosion reductions; grazing opportunities; overall soil fertility levels; and water storage and infiltration improvements.

Download the tool to your computer. You can also learn more in this conservation webinar: Cover Crop Economics Decision Support Tool Webinar.

Explore the Science of Soil Health

Dr. Dwayne Beck and his research team are rediscovering and refiningResearchers rediscover old ecological principles that give pests the “heebie-jeebies”

If you’re a pest looking for a quick snack, do not—repeat, do NOT—stop at the Dakota Lakes Research Farm. With an estimated 2 billion predator insects per acre, pests looking for lunch are more likely to become lunch, thanks to the ecological principles Dr. Dwayne Beck and his research team are rediscovering and refining.

Beck and his team want to ensure those predators keep watch over their crops, so they haven’t used insecticides on the farm in nearly 10 years—and they haven’t had to. Watch the latest two-minute video on Beck and his “systems approach” to agroecology to learn more and discover why predator species on the farm give pests the “heebie-jeebies.” It’s science you can really dig!

Profiles in Soil Health

Ann Frederick’s family thinks alike on cover crops and conservation Family synchronized on cover crops

Ann Frederick’s family thinks alike on cover crops and conservation. “Cover crops work well on our farm because of our cows,” Ann says. “We all agree cover crops are good for our cows and good for our ground.” Ann and her husband Al farm about 700 acres in Greene County, Iowa, with their son Bill. “Taking care of the soil is the top priority on our farm,” Ann says. “You can’t take the goody out of the soil and wear it out. It’s the only soil we’re ever going to have. That’s what I was taught growing up on the farm.” Read more

Fact Sheets

5 Questions graphicFact sheet: 5 questions landowners should ask their farmers about soil health

When farmers use soil health management systems, they’re building the soil AND they’re also building the land’s production potential over the long-term. But how do landowners know if their tenants are doing everything they need to do to make and keep their soil healthy? Barry Fisher, an Indiana farmer and nationally recognized soil health specialist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, recommends they ask their farming partner these five questions. Learn more in this fact sheet. (PDF, 2MB)