Tillage can destroy soil organic matter and structure along with the habitat that soil organisms need. Tillage, especially during warmer months, reduces water infiltration, increases runoff and can make the soil less productive.
No-till improves soil health by not disturbing soil microbiology. Beneficial soil microbes are essential for growing food, fiber and fuel.
No-till reduces the likelihood of soil runoff, keeping nutrients on the farm and improving water quality.
No-till saves time, money (fuel) and wear on equipment. It’s an economically-sound choice.
NRCS can assist producers with technical and in some cases financial assistance for converting from a conventional to a no-till system.
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.
2017 Soil Health Events
Kalkaska Conservation District Soil Health Field Day
The Kalkaska Conservation District held it's third annual Soil Health Field Day on Aug. 10. The event was held at Bigby Farms near Fife Lake. Some topics covered at the field day included; grazing to improve soil health, mycorrhizal fugi and soil health and weather extremes.
NRCS Soil Health Training Day
NRCS and conservation district employees took part in a soil health training on the farm of NRCS-Michigan State Agronomist Jerry Grigar. The workshop, held on June 27, covered the basics of soil health including using a soil quality test kit. The training was conducted by Grigar, along with State Soil Scientist Marty Rosek and Dr. Rafiq Islam from Ohio State University.
The soil quality test kit uses a solution of potassium permanganate to estimate the amount of organic matter in a soil sample. The amount of organic matter is an important indicator of soil quality.
Profiles in Soil Health
Cover Crops a Good Mix for Grand Traverse County Farmer
Planting 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
Getting 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 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 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...