(Posted Tue. Oct 16th, 2012)
Oct. 16: The U.S Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service launched an initiative highlighting the benefits of improving and maintaining healthy soil last week. The “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” looks at successes and identifies lessons learned in communities already examining how soil health can benefit their operations. This information will be shared with farmers in other areas which might also benefit from implementing similar practices.
“Managing soil health provides both economic and ecological benefits,” said Brent Hostetler NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team member. “Precious little rain made its way across central Ohio this past growing season. However, good soil management practices helped the fields retain additional moisture and minimize crop damage from the drought.”
The program focuses primarily on the importance of and ways to increase organic matter in soil. Maximizing soil health involves four basic principles; keeping the soil covered as much as possible, disturbing the soil as little as possible, keeping plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil and diversifying through the use crop rotation and cover crops.
States participating in the study included Ohio, Indiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Montana and Kansas. Farmers from other states can gain access to program information by contacting their local NRCS office. Updates, awareness and educational materials, social media announcements and local field day notices can also be found on the NRCS soil health web page.