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Soil Health

Unlock the Secrets in the SoilSoil Health is soil managed to its maximum potential through a system of conservation practices, including no-till, cover crops, advanced nutrient and pest management, and buffers and drainage systems where appropriate.

Managing for soil health is one of the easiest and most effective ways for farmers to increase crop productivity and profitability while improving the environment. Read our healthy, productive soil health checklist for growers and learn what might be a part of your soil health management system.

Why should you care about soil health? Read Farming in the 21st Century (PDF; 962 KB)

Soil Health Information

- Soil Health Assessment Card (PDF; 130 KB)

- How Does Soil Function? (PDF; 362 KB)

- Profiles in Soil Health - George McClelland , Fruitland, Idaho farmer (PDF; 1.5 MB)  

- Idaho Cover Crop Periodic Table (PDF; 50 KB)

- Crop Rotation Intensity and Diversity Worksheet (XLS; 113 KB)

- Calibrating Your Drill for Cover Crop Mixes (XLS; 15 KB)  Added 2-18-15!

- Does Glomalin Hold Your Farm Together? (PDF; 199 KB) 

- Soil Health Fact Sheets

- Soil Quality Indicator Sheets

- Soil Health Video: Evaluating Aggregate Strength Idaho NRCS Agronomist, Marlon Winger describes the soil aggregate test that helps define soil health.Cover of The Furrow

Links to Useful Soil Health Publications

- Beyond the Beginning: The Zero Till Evolution (PDF; 3.16 MB) No-till systems and soil health

- The Biology of Soil Compaction (PDF; 728 KB)

- The Furrow February 2013 Issue is devoted to understanding the basics and benefits of soil health. Interviews with subject matter experts and farmers from across the country. See more

PowerPoint Presentations

- Soil Health 101 – The Basics  (PPTX; 12 MB)

- Soil Health 101 - Planning Principles  (PPTX; 7.4 MB)

- How Can I Tell if My Soil is Healthy?  (PPTX; 7.9 MB)

Soil in shovel.

- General Soil Biology by Ray Archuleta (PDF; 30.4 MB)

- Cover Crops for Soil Health by Marlon Winger (PPTX; 12 MB)

- Soil Chemistry by Rick Haney (PPTX; 13 MB)

- Case Studies - 2013 – Soil Health in Action (PDF; 14.2 MB)

Soil Health Related Videos

- Orchardgrass Response to Grazing (WMV; 6 MB) 

- Root and Microbe Interactions (WMV; 14 MB)  

- Earthworms Processing Crop Residue (AVI; 39 MB) 

- Great Plains Drill Seeding Triticale into Cover Crop (3g2; 303 KB)  

- Marlon Winger talks on soil health with a demo on soil structure  

- Microbes in the Soil.  The soil is a living biological system, (WMV; 5 MB) 

- Protozoa Mass Feeding (MP4; 52 MB)  A glimpse of soil food web interactions simulated under a microscope.

- Strip till Implement Planting Sugar Beets into Wheat Stubble (AVI; 36 MB) 

Soil Health References

- Names of Books and Websites (PDF; 195 KB)

- Soil and Health Library (PDF; 6.32 MB)

National NRCS Soil Health Website

- National NRCS Soil Health Homepage

Or check out a National NRCS Soil Health component by clicking on one of the pictures.

Idaho Soil Health Contact

Marlon Winger, Agronomist, (208) 378-5730,