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News Release

Op-Ed: NRCS Celebrates Healthy Soils Week Dec. 6-10

Contacts: Dave Sanden (530) 691-5847
Tony Rolfes (530) 792-5656                                                                                       

Celebrating the Importance and Conservation of an Irreplaceable Resource

By Carlos Suarez, California NRCS State Conservationist

Healthy Soil Wk 2021-Home page

DAVIS, Calif., Dec. 6, 2021—This week USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) joins the California Department of Food and Agriculture and our many partners—including California’s Resource Conservation Districts, in highlighting soil health!

The week began with World Soil Day, celebrated on December 5. On this day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations raises awareness on the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by encouraging governments, organizations, communities, and individuals around the world to engage in proactively improving soil health. NRCS joined groups from across the globe to celebrate. This year’s theme is salinization.

Healthy Soils Week, so designated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, continues the celebration of this most critical natural resource, and is celebrated by dozens of agricultural and environmental interests statewide with a wide variety of events, demonstrations, and useful information.

For NRCS—founded as the Soil Conservation Service more than eight decades ago—soil has always been central to our planning and work. Healthy soils are the key to a healthy life and a prosperous, secure nation.

NRCS works with producers to ensure the four basic principles of soil health are at the forefront: minimize disturbance, maximize soil cover, maximize continuous living roots, and maximize biodiversity (including livestock integration). Since 2012, NRCS and its partners have helped producers install soil health practices on more than 40 million acres of working agricultural lands—helping farmers save money and improve their operations’ efficiency, while at the same time building their resiliency to extreme weather and improving the water quality that leaves their fields.

Healthy soil is the foundation of agriculture. By using proven soil health practices and systems – like no-till, cover cropping and diverse rotations, producers are increasing the health of their soils and reducing the need for expensive inputs like nutrients and pesticides.

Healthy soils are better at holding water and nutrients. In drought, this can help ensure production continues; in heavy rainfall, healthy soils can help keep water and nutrients in the soil where they should be and avert flooding downstream. Soil and nutrients that stay on the land don’t end up in our rivers and streams.

Additionally, soils have a great ability to store carbon. By installing soil health practices on the land carbon dioxide is sequestered in the soil. Since 2017 in California, the power of the soil to sequester carbon and play a role in stabilizing our climate has resulted in state funding for soil health demonstration projects and incentives for installing soil health practices for farmers using soil-friendly conservation practices.   

We in NRCS believe that healthy soil offers sustainable solutions for a changing world. All week we will be highlighting the importance of healthy soil and continuing to advocate for the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. Visit our home page or follow us on Twitter and YouTube.