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Soil Health-Illinois



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 endeavors of our time.

By focusing more attention on soil health and by educating our customers and the public about the positive impact healthy soils can have on productivity and conservation, we can help our Nation’s farmers and graziers feed the world more profitably and sustainably – now and for generations to come.

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.

So whether you’re a farmer, a researcher, a conservationist or an interested citizen, the following information will help you “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil.”


preview of fact sheet

Your Soil Health Journey Factsheet

Check out a new factsheet designed to help farmers and private landowners better understand how changes in soil health take place and what they'll see once they begin to make operational and management adjustments to their cropland and their production strategies. Improving the health of your soils doesn't happen over night, but some differences can be seen early in the process. Read (and download!) this one-page resource to help you know what to do and what you can expect to see on the ground. As always, to learn more or to start making changes, schedule an on-farm visit from your friends at USDA View and download NRCS! Your Soil Health Journey: What to look for along the way!

Producer Profiles

A growing number of farmers and ranchers from across the country are using cover crops and soil health management systems to improve the health and productivity of their soil. You can learn more about how some of these farmers are “Unlocking the Secrets in the Soil" here in Illinois.


Soil Health Profiles

Cover Crops Pay

The Bremmer family has farmed land in Northwestern Illinois for 110 years. This fourth generation operation began with Ross Bremmer’s great grandfather in Stephenson County.  He has been a key player in their row crop, forage and livestock operation for the last 13 years.

producer posing
Soil Health Profiles

Transformation Man

John Carey is a busy man. He has a day job but in his spare time he has transformed 300 eroded acres of degraded land into a profitable grazing operation. How'd he do it? A vision. Good partners. A lot of hard work. And EQIP.

producer posing
Soil Health Profiles

Starting Out Smart

Dahmer Farms, LLC has been no-till farming since 1983. Adam Dahmer, his father, Terry, and younger brother John, farm 1,300 acres in Williamson County, Illinois. This year, they planted cover crops on 75% of their farms. Next year?  They will plant 100% of their farms in cover crops!

producer posing
Soil Health Profiles

Old Ideas, Good Ideas

Jack Erisman farms 2,000 acres of farmland in Christian and Shelby Counties. He’s been farming since 1963 and is all about sustainability, ecological issues, and socially acceptable farming techniques. He has found a way to achieve all this and be profitable. His most important tool? Cover crops.

producer posing

Want to read more soil health stories?


Soil Tech Notes

soil tech note example




If you would like a PDF version of these, please visit the Soil Tech Notes page.


Educator Resources

K-12 Soil Science Teacher Resources

Educational videos

Video Game

Scoop on Soil

Want students to learn how AMAZING soil is? Let ‘Claude,’ (Illinois’ soil clod) do it for you. Claude’s Scoop on Soil is a fun, interactive digital game that teaches the important role soil plays in our lives. Learn how farmers can stop erosion and protect precious soil resources for the future.

soil health cartoon

Cover Crop Economics

The Cover Crop Economics Tool is a user-friendly economic assessment tool to assess the costs and benefits of incorporating cover crops into a crop rotation. The tool assesses both the short term and long term expected costs and benefits. If you have any problems accessing the tool from this site, using the tool, or if you are interested in being added to an email list to be notified when updated versions of the tool are released, please contact Dr. Stacy Zuber.

 Cover Crop$ Tool: An Economic Decision Support Tool- One page flyer that provides a brief description and overview of the Cover Crop Economics Tool

Cover Crops tool (1.63 MB)

Cover Crop Economics Tool Demonstrations- On demand video replays demonstrating the Cover Crop Economics Tool.

Fact sheet

ISAP's Cover Crop Incentives Directory

The Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership's Cover Crop Incentives Directory provides an overview of cover crop incentive payment opportunities for farmers in Illinois.