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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 PSA Soils Advertisement with a girl holding soilTV 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.


'The Hope in Healthy Soil' Video Series

HIHS imageChapter 5 – The benefits of going under ‘cover’
This video chapter explains why cover crops play a key role in soil health management systems and describes their many on- and off-farm benefits. DVDs of the series may be ordered free-of-charge through NRCS’ National Distribution Center at nrcsdistributioncenter@ia.usda.gov (specify “looped” or “chapter” versions). Watch chapter 5 (5:57).


Resources for landowners

Soil Health KitLandowners: 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 nrcsdistributioncenter@ia.usda.gov or call 1-888-526-3227. Or click here to download an electronic version of the kit.

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.

Soil Health Profile Douglas PooleFeatured profile in soil health
Douglas Poole
Mansfield, WA
Learn more

 

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 New: Soil Health Web PSA

Dr. Laura Danly of California's Griffith Observatory is helping USDA's Natural Resources ConservatioNoted 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)

Science of Soil Health Videos

Bringing the science of soil health home: Chapter 5 – Keeping living roots in the soil: Feeding the power of symbiosisBringing the science of soil health home: Chapter 5Keeping living roots in the soil: Feeding the power of symbiosis
In the fifth chapter of “Bringing the Science of Soil Health Home,” Buz Kloot, Ph.D. reminds his viewers that “carbon is the energy currency of the soil.” Carbon feeds the soil microbes, which enable nutrient cycling and other functions critical to plant health. Dr, Kloot explains that through the process of photosynthesis, plants convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates – exuding a sizeable portion of those carbohydrates through the roots to feed microorganisms in the soil. To maximize the benefits of this remarkable symbiotic process, farmers and gardeners should keep a living root in the soil throughout the year to feed those soil microbes, Dr. Kloot says. Watch the video (3:50).