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Soil Health

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.

Rose Lake Plant Materials Center Hosts Soil Health Field Day for Veterans

Military veterans attend a soil health field dayNRCS State Agronomist Jerry Grigar (left) presents at a soil health field day for military veterans held on July 15, at the NRCS Rose Lake Plant Materials Center in East Lansing. About 30 veteran farmers attended the event organized by NRCS, MSU Extension and the Michigan Chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition.

Students Learn About Soil Health at Earth Day event in Lansing

NRCS Biologist Jim Marshall (far right) performs a soil health demonstration at the Earth Day celebration in downtown Lansing.NRCS staff gave a soil health lesson to students attending the 2016 Earth Day Celebration outside of Constitution Hall in downtown Lansing. Biologist Jim Marshall (far right) performs the slake test to demonstrate how soil health improves soil structure and stability.

Cover Crops a Good Mix for Grand Traverse County Farmer

Sweet corn picked dailyPlanting a mix of cover crops has made the corn Dan Hall grows on his farm near Traverse City even sweeter. A mix of cover crops have helped solve several problems on his farm where he grows sweet corn, hay and field corn. Learn more...

Summer Planting Cover Crop between Rows of Planted Corn and Soybeans

close up of drill between rows of soybeansGetting a mix of cover crops established after the fall harvest can be a tough challenge. Lake County farmer Jack Thornton is having early success planting a cover crop mix between established rows of corns and soybeans. Learn more...




Profile in Soil Health - Ionia County farmer Jeff Sandborn

Ionia County farmer Jeff Sandborn utilizes a controlled traffic pattern to avoid soil compaction when applying farm chemicals.Ionia County farmer Jeff Sanborn uses a controlled traffic system to limit soil compaction in his fields. A controlled traffic system uses global positioning technology to operate equipment on the same path when planting, applying chemicals and harvesting. Heavy equipment compacts the soil, reducing the infiltration of water and air. Minimizing the amount of land equipment travels over through a controlled traffic system, combined with minimal tillage, greatly reduces soil compaction. Learn more...

Profile in Soil Health - NRCS State Agronomist Jerry Grigar

NRCS State Agronomist Jerry Grigar on his farm in Gratiot CountyNRCS State Agronomist Jerry Grigar credits over 30 years of no-till on his 140-acre farm in Gratiot County for higher yields in rain-challenged growing seasons. Learn more...

Michigan Soil Health Links

Healthy Soils Produce Healthy Crops (USDA SARE)
Cover Crop Innovators Video Series - Henry Miller, Centreville, Mich.  (USDA SARE)
National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health - Includes links to presentations from Feb. 2014 conference
Michigan Cover Crops - Michigan State University
Tillage Practices Have a Direct Correlation to Soil Health - Michigan State University Extension
Soil Health and Soil Quality - Michigan State University Extension
Midwest Cover Crops Council

NRCS National Soil Health Awareness Web page - More Soil Health Resources including Fact Sheets, Videos, Downloadable Infographics and more

Five Questions Non-operator Landowners Should Ask Farmers about Soil Health