Soil

Healthy soil is the foundation for long-term success for all farms and ranches. Whether organic or conventional, raising livestock or crops, your operation will benefit when you continually improve your soil’s health. ATTRA’s soil resources can help you prevent soil erosion, increase soil organic matter and water holding capacity, manage soil fertility, and improve the profitability of your farm.

Unhealthy soil doesn’t absorb much water. Healthy soil acts like a sponge, capable of holding hundreds of thousands of gallons of water in an acre. Regenerative farming practices enable the soil to capture rainfall that otherwise might disappear as runoff. Economically, these practices can increase crop and forage production, drought resilience, access to lucrative new markets, and therefore profitability. Environmentally, they can improve soil health and biodiversity.

Soil for Water

Soil for Water supports an expanding network of farmers and ranchers who are taking steps to catch and hold more water in the soil. The Soil for Water project grew out of the western megadrought, which is putting a strain on agricultural producers across the country.

The free and voluntary program combines the use of appropriate technology, peer-to-peer learning, and adaptive management to encourage the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices. The Soil for Water project is about building lasting infrastructure and connecting dynamic agricultural producers that will make farms, ranches, and communities more resilient in the face of persistent drought and other natural disasters.

Ellie Fleshman of Fleshman Farms in Teton County Montana USDA NRCS Flickr CC

Featured Topics

ATTRA’s Soil Resources

Healthy soil and hands, USDA Flickr

Dale Strickler: Creating Drought-Free Agriculture

In this video, Dale Strickler covers all aspects of creating…
healthy soil in a person's hands

Managing Soil for Water

Damaged and biologically dead soils represent a major opportunity…
Healthy soil and hands, USDA Flickr

Dale Strickler: Ranching for Rain and Drought Resilience

In this video, Dale Strickler explains how to make your ranching…
Healthy soil and hands, USDA Flickr

Dale Strickler: Building Drought Resilient Soils

In this video, Dale Strickler explains how to catch and hold…
Pollinator on squash plant

Soil Social: Quorum Sensing, Part 2

By Darron Gaus, NCAT Agriculture Specialist Returning to the…
healthy soil in a person's hands

Episode 292. Don’t Leave It to Beavers: Dam It Yourself

Here’s a fun fact. Before European settlement, as much as 10%…
Compost bin at NCAT's SIFT farm

Cover Crops, Green Manures, Pre- and Probiotics: Soil Amendments, Fertilizers, or Both?

By Andrew Coggins, NCAT Agriculture Specialist The last 12…
Chelenzo Farms logo

Chelenzo Farms: A High Mountain Desert Oasis

By Darron Gaus, NCAT Agriculture Specialist Chelenzo Farms…

Episode 286. What is Biochar?

In this episode of Voices from the Field, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture…

Episode 284. Carbon Farm Planning

Lynette Niebrugge, Associate Director of Education and Training…
Cows on pasture near water trough

What’s In a Name? Challenges and Benefits of the Term “Regenerative”

By Nina Prater, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist  Here…
cattle on pasture

Dixon Water Foundation Uses Grazing to Protect and Improve Water Resources

By Mike Morris and Darron Gaus, NCAT Agriculture Specialists With…

High Hope Farm: Regenerative Agriculture in Action 

By Luz Ballesteros Gonzalez and Felicia Bell, NCAT Agriculture…

Slump Test for Assessing Aggregate Stability in Agricultural Soils

Healthy soils hold water and prevent nutrients from running off…
Examining soil health in hand

Rainfall Simulator: How Farming Practices Affect Soil Stability and Water Infiltration

In this video, Bill Chain of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation discusses…