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Soil Health

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Unlock the Secrets in the Soil

Soil health in Massachusetts

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.

What is healthy soil?

Healthy soil is much more than balancing the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and pH of your soil.  It includes physical, chemical and biological factors that combine to make your soil a healthy habitat for the numerous soil microbes that interact with the soil to make nutrients available to plants.  A highly functioning soil will:

  • Supply plant roots with water, air, and nutrients with minimum of inputs
  • Absorb even the most intense rainfall with minimum of runoff
  • Break down and recycle "wastes" such as plant residues and manures
  • Function on the highest level possible with minimum inputs

Following these Core Principles of Soil Health Management will start you on the path to better soil health!

  • Minimize soil disturbance
  • Keep the soil covered
  • Energize with diversity
  • Maximize living roots

Contact Massachusetts NRCS to talk about Soil Health on your land.

How can I find out more about the health of my soil?

Massachusetts Profiles in Soil Health

Jim Ward, Wards Berry Farm

It's all about water quality at Ward's Berry Farm

Jim Ward | Ward's Berry Farm | Sharon, Mass.

Farming in a suburban town 25 miles south of Boston has both benefits and challenges. Those benefits and challenges result from the same thing, lots of neighbors. Lots of neighbors mean lots of customers for Ward’s Berry Farm’s retail farm stand and pick-your-own operation in Sharon, Massachusetts. They also mean competition for water resources and stricter state regulations to protect public drinking water supplies. Farmer Jim Ward has found a way to meet customer demand, while protecting water resources; he’s adopted good soil health practices with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Read more about Jim Ward...

Soil health across the nation

NEW Soil Health map 2014

A growing number of America’s farmers are using soil health management systems to improve the health and function of their soil—and we’re working hand-in-hand with these producers through our technical and financial assistance programs and services to help ensure their success. Click here to use the interactive map and find out what’s happening in your state regarding soil health and learn more about some of the farmers who are unlocking the secrets in the soil.


Explore the science of soil health

Purdue’s Dr. Eileen KladivkoWhen we use tillage the soil ecosystem is disturbed on a massive scale.  Purdue’s Dr. Eileen Kladivko contrasted natural ecosystems with tilled systems and what we stand to lose when soils are tilled. Watch the video:The Science of Soil Health: What Happens When You Till?

 

 

 

 


Go to the national NRCS Soil Health website...