As a part of the Unlock the Secrets of the Soil campaign, USDA NRCS has put together some soil health fact sheets. From no-till to cover crops, NRCS is giving you basics and other tips to help you get the most from your soil and unlock your farm's potential.

 

Basics and Benefits

Healthy, fully functioning soil is balanced to provide an environment that sustains and nourishes plants, soil microbes and beneficial insects. Managing for soil health is one of the most effective ways for farmers to increase crop productivity and profitability while improving the environment. Positive results are often realized within the first year, and last well into the future. Download the PDF.

 

Dig a Little, Learn a Lot

A healthy, fully functioning soil is balanced to provide an environment that sustains and nourishes plants, soil microbes and beneficial insects. Soil is a living system, and healthy soil should look, smell, and feel alive. Healthy soil can increase production, increase profits, and protect natural resources, such as air and water. Dig in to your soil to discover what your soil can tell you about its health and production potential. Download the PDF.

 

Discover the Cover

Biodiversity increases the success of most agricultural systems. Ithelps to prevent disease and pest problems associated with monocultures. Using cover crops and increasing diversity within crop rotations improves soil health and soil function, reduces costs, and increases profitability. Diversity above ground improves diversity below ground, which helps create healthy productive soils. Download the PDF.

 

Do Not Disturb

If soil health is your goal, till as little as possible. 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. Tillage disrupts the soil’s natural biological cycles, damages the structure of the soil, and makes soil more susceptible to erosion. Download the PDF.