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Soil Health Contacts

NRCS Soil Health Division

Soil is the foundational resource that impacts all other resources.  Soil health and the soil’s ability to function are paramount to our national health, safety and welfare. Over the past centuries, we have accelerated the amount of soil physical, chemical and biological disturbance over much of our working lands, with some improvements made on physical disturbance where tillage has been reduced over the last decades. The overall result of disturbance has been a loss of soil organic matter, important soil organisms and soil aggregate stability. This has led to the degradation of key soil functions such as water infiltration, plant available water storage (harvest and retention of rainfall), ground water recharge, water cycling and filtration, nutrient cycling, resilience to pest pressure, and resilience to extreme weather and the impacts of climate change. As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy, productive, and providing key ecosystem services, is of paramount importance.  

More and more farmers and ranchers are successfully adapting soil health management principles and systems to their production systems. These principles include minimizing disturbance and maximizing biodiversity, soil cover, and the presence of living roots. They can be implemented through combinations of practices such as minimal or no tillage, cover cropping and diverse crop rotations, and ecological management. Successfully implemented systems are increasing soil organic matter and improving microbial activity. As a result, farmers are sequestering more carbon, mitigating and adapting to climate change simultaneously, increasing water infiltration, reducing flooding, reducing drought impacts, improving wildlife and pollinator habitat below and above ground, reducing nutrient, pesticide, and energy inputs —all while harvesting better profits and often better and/or more consistent yields.

The division amplifies NRCS’ overall conservation planning and implementation efforts and adds conservation and economic value to the farming and ranching enterprises of NRCS’ customers through the integration of soil health. SHD collaborates with the States and the Pacific Islands and Caribbean Areas and their respective Regional Conservationists, National Technology Support Centers, Employee Development Section, and other national centers, Plant Materials Centers, USDA Climate Hubs, National Headquarters Divisions, Deputy Chiefs of all deputy areas, and other internal and external partners, and across disciplines. The SHD focuses its soil health training and technical leadership efforts to help the agency provide comprehensive and effective support on the use of soil health assessments, and the planning and implementation of soil health management systems on our Nation’s working lands, working in coordination with NRCS State and national entities.


Name, Title Phone
Brandon Smith, Acting Director 603-812-7027
Rachel Seman-Varner, National Soil Health Specialist 202-945-2365
Donna Miranda-Berneche, Executive Assistant 413-262-8845
Carl Koch, Special Projects Coordinator 202-680-2388
Matthew Denton, Team Leader
 (starting 09.26.2021)
Joe Williams, Team Leader 360-704-7782
Stan Boltz, Specialist 605-352-1236
Willie Durham, Specialist 817-509-3289
Zahangir Kabir, Specialist 202-480-4938
Nathan Lowder, Specialist 202-480-4895
Candy Thomas, Specialist 785-823-4553
Marlon Winger, Specialist 307-258-4610