Soil health is defined as how well soil does what we want it to do. Healthy soil gives us clean air and water, bountiful crops and forests, productive grazing lands, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes. More farmers are managing for soil health by disturbing their soil as little as possible, growing as many different species of plants as practical, keeping living plants in the soil as often as possible, and keeping the soil covered constantly. Soil is a living and life-giving substance, without which we would perish.
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.
Explore the Science of Soil Health
When we use tillage the soil ecosystem is disturbed on a massive scale. Purdue’s Dr. Eileen Kladivko contrasted natural ecosystems with tilled systems and what we stand to lose when soils are tilled. Watch the video: The Science of Soil Health: What Happens When You Till?
Profiles in Soil Health
Ohio farmer David Brandt has been using no-till over 40 years. He farms corn, wheat, and soybeans and uses cover crop blends. David wasn’t really thinking about the health of the soil at first, but when cover crops improved water infiltration, he really took notice. Brandt had to learn about soil health by trial and error, but he wants others to have an easier road. "I’m trying to pass on what we’ve learned. I don’t want everyone to reinvent the wheel. I want people to see our failures and our successes," he says. Watch the video: Profiles in Soil Health and Soil Health Profile: David Brandt
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.
There are a lot of interesting facts about healthy soil. Check out these informative graphics to unlock some of the secrets in healthy soil. Newspaper, magazine and newsletter editors are encouraged to download and publish these graphics (royalty-free) to help their readers discover some of the interesting facts at our feet.
Get Soil Smart!
State Soil Scientist