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The Star of The Day is Soil

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On December 5th, 2020 World Soil Day is celebrated to focus on the importance of healthy soil and advocate for sustainable soil resources management.

As we think about the importance of farming and agriculture to society, one cannot have the conversation without talking about the show's star, soil. On December 5th, 2020, World Soil Day is celebrated to focus on the importance of healthy soil and advocate for sustainable soil resources management.


What is soil?
Soil is the loose top layer of the Earth's surface, consisting of rock and mineral particles mixed with decayed organic matter (humus), and capable of retaining water, providing nutrients for plants, and supporting a wide range of biotic communities. Also, the soil is alive; it is a living thing!
It is necessary to prioritize the importance of soils because it is a way of life. "Primarily all things originate from soils, whether natural or human-made,” said State Soil Scientist Delaney Johnson. “Maintaining and building healthy soils is the foundation of farming systems to supply food and fiber to the world." The key to having healthy soil is correctly taking care of the soil, something Johnson and the Natural Resources Conservation Service
Mississippi Soil.

"NRCS historical way of thinking was to keep the soil with a vegetative cover so it could prevent or reduce water and wind erosion," said Johnson. "As years passed, observations and studies conducted, the vegetative cover was not only good for reducing soil erosion but was also great for soil conditioning and health."
All soils are not the same. For Mississippi, the Natchez Silt Loam Soil represents the state's soil resources, existing on .56 percent of Mississippi's landscape.
A typical Natchez soil profile consists of three-inch topsoil of dark grayish brown loam to eight inches. A subsurface of brown silt loam, a yellowish-brown and dark yellowish-brown silt loam subsoil to 36 inches, and a substratum that is yellowish-brown, and dark yellowish-brown silt loam down to 80 inches.
NRCS protects the soil
To protect and preserve Mississippi's soils, NRCS offers farmers, producers, and landowners assistance for row crops and specialty crops, livestock, grazing land, and woodland sustainability to support healthy forests.
The objective of certain conservation practices is:
- To conserve moisture.
- Regulate soil temperature.
- Intercept raindrops.
- Suppress weed growth
- Provide habitat for members of the soil food web that spend time above ground.
Beneficial for Farmers
For farmers, ranchers, and landowners having healthy soil is essential for continued food production and fiber. But that task requires a level of commitment that Johnson believes is crucial to soil development.
" Building and maintaining soil health, particularly organic matter, requires management commitment and execution," said Johnson. "Soil isn't an inert growing medium, but rather is teaming with billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that are the foundation of a symbiotic ecosystem."
Soil health and quality are defined as soil's continued capacity to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.
Healthy soils are typically productive because they have organic matter and soil microorganisms. Improving these organic components provides a wide range of benefits for farmers. From water retention to aeration, the healthy impact soils can have on farmers' growing and harvest seasons is plentiful.
Soil is also healthier when the tillage is reduced (practices like no-till farming), and fertilizer is used efficiently. This means fewer passes over the field and no excel fertilizer inputs, which can provide increased profit margins.


Teaching soils to the next generation
Leaving the land to the next generation of farmers without adequately teaching them how to care for it can produce many challenges down the road. That is why NRCS commits itself to give back.
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This year, NRCS has partnered with Piney Woods School to inform students on the importance of quality soil! Each month NRCS employees take time out of their schedules to teach students everything there is to know about soils in an exciting fashion that gives them the opportunity to learn firsthand with experts.
On this World Soil Day, celebrate one of the keys to farming and agriculture!
Students at Piney Woods School learning about s