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Soil Health

Soil Health in Tennessee

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.

Tennessee Soil Health Success Stories

Jimmy Standefer on the Benefits of No Till, Cover Crops, and Rotational Grazing

Jimmy Standefer discusses the Benefits of no till, cover crops, and rotational grazing. 

Jim & Johnnie Sue Phillips On the Benefits of Rotational Grazing

Jim & Johnnie Sue Phillips discuss the benefits of rotational grazing. 

Randy Winter, Cocke County Producer on Rotational Grazing, Water Quality and Herd Management

Randy Winter, Cocke County producer discusses rotational grazing, water quality and herd management. 

Jeff Wilder, Greene County Producer Talks about Rotational Grazing

Jeff Wilder, Greene County producer, talks about rotational grazing. 

Brain Dooley, Hawkins County Producer on Rotational Grazing, Bale Grazing, and Grass Fed Beef Operation

Brain Dooley, Hawkins County producer, discusses his rotational grazing, bale grazing, and grass fed beef operation. 

Butch Lay, Monroe County Producer on the Benefits of Rotational Grazing on his Organic Dairy

Butch Lay and his family operate the Muddy Waters Organic Farm. Here he discusses the benefits of rotational grazing. 

Jan Johnson on the Benefits of Rotational Grazing

Jan Johnson on the benefits of rotational grazing and how his views have changed. 

Corey Ippolito Vineyard & Winery Use Rotational Grazing in their Vineyard

Corey Ippolito Vineyard & Winery discusses how they use rotational grazing in their vineyard. 

Terry Gupton, Cumberland County Producer on Rotational Grazing

Terry Gupton, Cumberland County Producer, speaks on rotational grazing. 

Jim & Deanna Malooley On Rotational Grazing in their Grass Fed Lamb and Beef Operation

Jim & Deanna Malooley On rotational grazing in their grass fed lamb and beef operation. 

John Abe Teague on Providing Shade, Improving Pastureland, and Rotational Grazing

John Abe Teague, a Washington County producer, discusses providing shade, improving pastureland, and rotational grazing.  

James England Discusses Compost, Soil Health, and Rotational Grazing

This video is about James England's Success with Compost, Soil Health, and Rotational Grazing 

Growing a Christmas Tree Farm

Joshua Johnson, Owner of Lazy Spread in Clarksville, worked with NRCS and TDA to get technical and cost share assistance. 

Colbert Brother's Project

Tim and Tommy Colbert farm in Chester County, Tennessee. They share their thoughts on planting cover crops and improving the health of their soil. 

Tim Bishop, Chester County Producer, Talks about Cover Crops

Tim Bishop of Chester County, Tennessee talks about using cover crops to improve his soil health and ultimately reduce inputs thus increasing his profits. 

John Moore Chester, County Producer, on Cover Crops and Soil Health 12-2014

Chester County producer John Moore talks about soil health and the benefits of cover crops.

Willis Jepson on Soil Health -- Robertson County

Willis Jepson, a seventh generation family farmer in Robertson County talks about cover crops, soil health and improving water quality in Red River.

Ray Sneed -- Shelby County Producer

Ray Sneed, Shelby County Producer, discusses Soil Health on his farm.

Brad Cochran -- Madison County Producer

Brad Cochran, Ward's Grove Farm, Madison County, Tennessee talks about the value of cover crop to his soil health.

Matt Griggs Madison County Soil Health

Matt Griggs, a Madison County Tennessee producer, talks about the value of cover crops and the impact on soil health.

Russel McGlothlin Sumner County Producer Discusses Soil Health and Cover Crops 

Russel McGlothlin is an 8th generation farmer in Sumner County who is committed to the use of cover crops and soil health.

John Verell Discusses Soil Health

Third generation Madison County, Tennessee farmer John Verell discusses the benefits of soil health on their family farm. 

Marty Hinson - Gibson County, Tennessee

Marty Hinson and her husband farm 3000 acres in West Tennessee. In this video she discusses their experiences. Marty discusses how she selected her cover mixes beginning with what she wanted to accomplish with her cover crops. 

Karl Forsbach - Hardin County, Tennessee

Karl Forsbach and his son, Alex, farm Tennessee bottom land in Hardin County. In this video he discusses how he uses cover crops. 

Mark Klepper - Greene County, Tennessee

Mark Klepper discusses the economics of cover crops. 

Nick Combs - Greene County, Tennessee

Nick Combs and his father run a dairy and row crop operation in Greene County, Tennessee. Nick talks about his cover crops and the benefits of cover crops and residue.

Ricky Essary - Hardin County, Tennessee

Ricky Essary and his family operate Cherry Farm in Hardin County, Tennessee where he grows about 1500 acres of corn and 2100 acres of soybeans. They have been using cover crops for the past six years.

Kenny Hamilton - Monroe County, Tennessee

Kenny Hamilton has been using no-till farming for 25 years in Monroe County, Tennessee. In this video he discusses the use of EQIP to increase soil health.

Danny Powell - Cannon County, Tennessee

Danny Powell is a third generation farmer in Cannon County, Tennessee. In this video he discusses the value of cover crops to improve soil health, infiltration and productivity.

Ed Sumara - Lake County, Tennessee

Ed Sumara, a third generation farmer, farms 2500 in Lake County, Tennessee. He started using cover crops to improve his soil health. He discusses his practices and the resulting productivity.

Jason Crabtree - Obion County, Tennessee

Jason Crabtree farms 1300 acres on a farm that was his grandfathers. Jason discusses cover crops, ariel seeding, and the practices he uses on his crops of corn and soybeans.

Don Norwood - Henry County, Tennessee

Don Norwood and his son farm 3000 acres in Henry County, Tennessee. Mr. Norwood is 100% no-till and here he discusses his cover crops.

Link to More Tennessee Soil Health Information

Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts

Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts


Out on the Land with Larry ButlerEpisodes of Out on the Land with Dr. Larry Butler that feature Tennessee.

Cooper Farm seasonal grazing-based dairy episode

Cover Crops for Soil Health in Coffee County, Tennessee Part 1 and Part 2

Greg Brann, Tennessee Grazing Specialist, Part 1 and Part 2

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.

Spanish Language Soil Health Information




New Spanish Language Soil Health Video

Descubre los Secretos del suelo: A new Spanish-language video, produced by NRCS’ public affairs team in Missouri, with the assistance of State Conservationist J.R. Flores, State Soil Scientist Jorge Lugo-Camacho, Soil Conservationist (and Hispanic SEPM) Brendaly Rodriguez Munos, and Management Assistant Angie Verrill.

The video describes the basics and benefits of soil health and outlines the four basic principles needed to improve soil health.

Click here to watch the 4-minute video. Need more soil health information in Spanish? Click here to view NRCS’ Spanish-language soil health publications.

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?



Newspaper/Magazine Info-Graphics

Infographic Web CopyThere are a lot of interesting facts about healthy soil. Check out these informative graphics to unlock some of the secrets in healthy soil. Newspaper, magazine and newsletter editors are encouraged to download and publish these graphics (royalty-free) to help their readers discover some of the interesting facts at our feet.