(Posted Wed. Aug 9th, 2017)
The Soil Health Partnership has endorsed a set of 19 soil health measurements, encouraging the agriculture industry to quickly adopt them. Once widely adopted, the indicators are expected to help farming become more sustainable and precise in areas such as nutrient management.
Research shows that the benefits of improving soil health include: Improved crop yield, enhanced water quality, increased drought resilience and flood resistance, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions.
After three years of collaboration with scientific and agricultural partners, the Soil Health Institute announced its endorsement of the “Tier 1” national soil health measurements earlier this week. Examples of the specific Tier 1 measures include organic carbon, pH, and available water holding capacity. A complete list of all 19 endorsed soil health measurements is available at the Institute’s website.
“We recognize the vigorous scientific collaboration that went into the development of this list of indicators, and urge the widescale adoption of them,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership, and National Corn Growers Association director of soil health and sustainability. “We encourage farmers and agronomists to test soil on a regular basis, and use these indicators as business management tools to help them make smart decisions on the farm.”
Goeser added he hopes the new guidance on soil health indicators will lead to a faster implementation of practices that will improve soil health, like reducing the intensity of tillage to build soil organic matter.
An initiative of NCGA, the Soil Health Partnership is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health, including reduced tillage, the use of cover crops, and advanced nutrient management, from an economic as well as environmental standpoint.