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. 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
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.
Featured Profile in Soil Health
Pine County, MN
Soil Health Announcements
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.
Rethinking soil tests: Researcher uses natural approach to better understand the soil’s secrets
Through his observations as a farmer, Rick Haney became a big fan of the way nature does things. As a scientist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, his entire research program has been modeled on “how does nature do it, and can we mimic it in the lab?” Advances in analysis technologies have allowed Haney to develop a set of soil tests that get a more accurate picture of what plant roots experience. Learn more in this three-minute “Science of Soil Health” video. It’s science you can really dig!
The Science Behind Healthy Soil
The Soil Health Literature files are compiled from peer-reviewed papers relating to the impact of conservation practices on soil physical and chemical properties important for soil health, as summarized by our soil health specialists. Please note that the peer-reviewed papers and conservation practices included are not exhaustive and will be added to periodically. The current focus of the literature review is on soil physical and chemical properties. The intent is to address soil biology and economics in future revisions. Learn more.
Fact 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)