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 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.
Chapter 3: No-till planting explained
For consumers steeped in the traditions of roto-tilling and hoeing their gardens, the notion of planting without plowing may seem counterintuitive. In this “The Hope in Healthy Soil” video chapter, viewers learn how large-scale no-till planters work and why no-tilling results in a wide range of on- and off-farm benefits. DVDs of the series may be ordered free-of-charge through NRCS’ National Distribution Center at email@example.com (specify “looped” or “chapter” versions). Watch the video (3:29).
Resources for landowners
Landowners: 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, send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-526-3227. Or click here to download an electronic version of the kit.
Soil Health Across the Nation
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.
in soil health
Malheur County, Oregon
New: Soil Health Web PSA
Noted astronomer urges viewers to unlock the secrets in the soil
Dr. Laura Danly of California’s Griffith Observatory is helping USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service promote its “healthy soils” campaign. But why is an astronomer talking about soil, rather than the stars? “Studying Earth is just like studying the planets. Earth is a planet, and it’s the most amazing planet we know. It’s the only one we know that has life on it, so it’s a natural for me to want to talk about Earth and share some important messages with people about how we can make Earth healthier,” Danly says. Watch the video (2:20)
After the till is gone: Using no-till to improve soil health
In the third chapter of his five-part mini-series, “Bringing the Science of Soil Health Home,” Buz Kloot, Ph.D. explores a “disturbing,” but oft-used aspect of soil management: Physical disturbance via tillage. Dr. Kloot reminds us that while farmers have historically used tillage to prepare seed beds and to control weeds, natural systems do not use tillage. Yet in those natural systems water infiltrates into the soil, plants grow and nutrients recycle. Tillage, he says, “destroys biology, exacerbates compaction and burns up organic matter.” But how do we get plants in the ground without tilling? In this chapter, Dr. Kloot explains how it’s done on a row-crop farm, an organic farm and his own 1,000 square foot garden. Watch chapter three (4:20).