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Soil Health

South Dakota Soil Health "Merit or Myth"

Introducing the Soil Health Revolution

Soil Health Information


Rainfall Simulator Shows Importance of Soil Health

The South Dakota Rainfall Simulator provides a "seeing is believing" demonstration of how practices such as no-till farming, cover crops, and prescribed grazing benefit soil health and improve the water cycle on cropland and rangeland across the state.  No-till cropland and rangeland managed with prescribed grazing increase infiltration and reduce runoff and sedimentation.  This demonstration includes discussion of topics such as infiltration, aggregate stability, soil structure, and the relationship of these properties to runoff, erosion, and water quantity.  You may view the rainfall simulator in action by clicking on the link below.

Soil Health Now and in the Future (PDF; 312 KB)

  • Building Connections-Soil Health Mentor Booklet Request a copy of the 32-page “Building Connections” publication with a list of South Dakota farmers and ranchers who have volunteered their time and expertise to help others with soil health. Also included in the publication are contact information for subject-matter experts for agronomy, soils, grassland management and more!

SD Soil Health Mentor Network in Progress

The NRCS, SDACD, individual conservation districts and the SD Soil Health Coalition have established a Soil Health Mentor Network for South Dakota. When they enrolled in Voices, about half of the now nearly 100 SD Voices for Soil Health indicated they would be willing to be a mentor for soil health management practices.

Angela Ehlers, SD Association of Conservation Districts (SDACD), Pierre, and Al Miron, SD Soil Health Coalition, Sioux Falls, have worked out details for the SD Soil Health Mentor Network. Mentor volunteers can participate as much, or as little, as convenient for them and for specific topics that they are interested in.  “We all know that schedules and workload get crazy,” says Ehlers “The initial questions for the mentors includes a category for how much time they are able to commit for mentoring a fellow ag producer. Sometimes, a simple phone call is all that is wanted or needed, or, folks could travel between their farms or ranches.”

The Soil Health PR Intern Rebecca Starkenburg, Brookings, has been contacting volunteer Voices farmers and ranchers. Miron is pleased that the network is becoming a reality.  “Managing a successful agricultural operation can be challenging,” says Miron, “people who have questions or need a sounding board can get connected with other ag producers who have faced similar situations.” Miron emphasizes that any information that a mentor or mentee discusses will be confidential between the parties involved.

“The Soil Health Mentor Network is method for people to connect and communicate with other ag producers about their curiosities or challenges with implementing soil health management practices,” says Colette Kessler, Public Affairs, Pierre with the NRCS South Dakota. “It’s great when you have a relationship where you can call someone up and they can help you think things through to see how something might fit your operation.”

Anyone interested in becoming a soil health mentor, or being a mentee, should contact their local USDA NRCS, conservation district, or Josh Lefers, Coordinator for the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition.

Printed copies of the folded brochure are available by contacting either Josh Lefers or Colette Kessler or (605) 220-1765.