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News Release

USDA Celebrates World Soil Day in New Hampshire and Across the Globe

Contact:
Jeremy J. Fowler, Public Affairs Specialist, NRCS, N.H.
603-868-9931


World Soil Day Banner (Graphic from FAO.org)

By Rick Ellsmore, New Hampshire State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service


Every December 5, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) joins partners around the globe to celebrate World Soil Day, an annual event to bring attention to the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for sustainable management of soil resources.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Hampshire is joining other organizations around the world, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to raise awareness on the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being. Soil is a living and life-giving natural resource and you can learn more from the NRCS website.

This year’s theme "Stop soil erosion, save our future" focuses on addressing the increasing challenges in soil management by the many benefits of healthy soil. Governments, organizations, communities and individuals around the world are encouraged to engage in proactively improving soil health.

American farmers and ranchers play a large part in conserving and maintaining healthy soils on their land. NRCS is proud to work hand-in-hand with these producers to improve the health and function of their soil through voluntary conservation programs.

Soil erosion is one of the greatest challenges for sustainable soil management. In fact, NRCS was born out of the need to stop soil erosion during the Dust Bowl. Between the late 1800s and 1930, there are reports of more than one hundred million acres of land that was plowed. Since then, our programs have expanded to conserve and improve many of our natural resources. NRCS has been working with producers to protect natural resources for more than 80 years.
A group of agricultural producers gather in an equipment shed to look at equipment nd talk about soil health principles.
Our producers have a strong tie to their land and want to protect and improve the land for future generations. Many producers have adapted soil health principles and systems including no-till, cover cropping and diverse rotations in order to increase their soil’s organic matter and improve microbial activity.

This fall in New Hampshire, our resource conservationists have been holding several Farmer-to-Farmer Soil Health Day workshops, coordinated by the county conservation district managers who invite local agricultural producers. These workshops focus on the use of no-till seeding and cover-crop management, how to make those changes on their farms, as well as how to make those changes work for their farm.

Producers get to hear the benefits, challenges, lessons-learned, and hurdles to avoid when going no-till and were also able to learn about some of the cost-sharing programs available through NRCS to convert conventional tilling seeders to be no-till-seeding capable. By offering funds to retrofit their corn planters, or by making no-till corn planters accessible to rent in partnership with the County Conservation Districts and the Soil Heath Working Group, we have been trying to ensure that the practice is actual attainable for the producers.

By avoiding tilling on their lands and using cover crops, not only do farmers help conserve soil from wind and water erosion, save time, money, and fuel costs, they can actually improve the quality and health of their soil. These practices help the soils become more resilient to variable weather conditions such as drought and heavy precipitation - it becomes another tool in the producers’ risk management toolbox.

As with all things on the farm though, the proof is in the pudding.

So, we ensured that our producers also were able to hear directly from their fellow farmers who currently use no-till and cover crop management on their lands and the benefits that were the result of those efforts. We invited them to workshops, because that what the producers want to hear - that it worked for the farmer down the road, not that ‘the research shows …’ In the end their success is our success, we let them speak to that!

Many of these producers utilized NRCS programs in order to dip their toe in the water when it comes to adopting these systems, and the results speak for themselves. The soil health improves and so do their operations. This generates a buzz, and ultimately more interest in these programs, which is a win for soil health.

As a result, farmers are sequestering more carbon, increasing water filtration, improving wildlife and pollinator habitat all while harvesting better profits and often better yields. If you farm or ranch, and you’re interested in improving soil health on your land, we encourage you to contact your local NRCS field office. Learn more by visiting farmers.gov/service-locator.

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