Soils & Compost


healthy soil
Healthy soil can improve crop and livestock production. The publications and other resources listed here offer information on how to assess, improve, and maintain soil health for both croplands and pastures. Several publications address fertilization and composting specifically for organic production. Soil management can also play an important role in protecting water quality, and additional resources are listed on that topic.
 

Managing Soil as An Ecology Can Create Better Growing Conditions
A short podcast from Rex Dufour, NCAT Western Office Manager and Soil Specialist.
Making adjustments to how soil is thought of and managed can yield some significant long-term benefits when applied to farming operations. Rising costs of agricultural inputs has been one of the contributing factors for a renewed focus on soil management techniques in recent years. Press the play button to tune in:

 
NOTE: Some of the following documents are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs. Download Acrobat Reader.


 

⇒ Videos

  Soil Aggregate Stability: Visual Indicator of Soil Health
  Carbonomics
  Cover Crops, No-till, and Soil Health
  Columbia County, Penn., Conservation District Panel Discussion
  Equipment Innovations for Soil Health: Columbia Country Conservation District
  Year 2 & Beyond: High Tunnel Soil Health for the Experienced Grower
  Mien Strawberry Growers in California
  Organic Crop Rotations: Conservation Benefits
  Intensive Grazing: One Farm's Set-Up (9 video series)
  Promoting High-Quality Conservation on Organic Farms
  Gabe Brown: Farming in Nature's Image
  Composting! You Can Do It
   Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas
  Five Benefits of Cover Crops
  Four Warm Season Cover Crops
  Terrapin Farm Cover Crop Tour Near Whitefish, MT
  Cover Crop Uses for Small-Scale Producers
  Bye Farm Cover Cropping Near Kevin, Montana
  Cover Crop Research by MSU ~ Part 1
  Cover Crop Research by MSU ~ Part 2
  Vilicus Farms: Cover Crops and Tour
  Cover Cropping an Almond Orchard
  Mixed Cover Crops: An introduction
  Increasing Diversity and Enhancing Stewardship with Cover Crops
  Mixed Cover Crops - Dr. Clain Jones
  Innovative No-Till: Using Multi-Species Cover Crops to Improve Soil Health



⇒ Publications

A Brief Overview of Nutrient Cycling in Pastures - IP221

PDF Price: FREE

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Alternative Soil Amendments - IP054

PDF Price: $0.99 for non-members

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Alternative Soil Testing Laboratories Database

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Arsenic in Poultry Litter: Organic Regulations - IP266

PDF Price: FREE

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Assessing the Pasture Soil Resource - IP128

PDF Price: $.99 for non-members
Kindle Price: $0.99

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ATTRA Soil Resources - IP556

PDF Price: FREE

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Biochar and Sustainable Agriculture - IP358

PDF Price: FREE
Kindle Price: $0.99

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Building Healthy Pasture Soils - IP546

PDF Price: FREE

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Compost for Sacramento Small Farms - IP540

PDF Price: FREE

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Composting-The Basics - IP410

PDF Price: $3.95 for non-members
Kindle Price: $3.95

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Cover Crop (340) in Organic Systems - IP471

PDF Price: FREE

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Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas - IP535

PDF Price: FREE

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Drought Resistant Soil - IP169

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How to Add Compost on Your Small Farm - IP555

PDF Price: FREE

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Integrating Livestock and Crops: Improving Soil, Solving Problems, Increasing Income - IP475

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Manures for Organic Crop Production - IP127

PDF Price: $.99 for non-members

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Marketing Manure: A Value-Added Product for Small Operations - IP459

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No-Till Case Study, Bauer Farm: Cover Crop Cocktails on Former CRP Land - IP442

PDF Price: FREE

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No-Till Case Study, Brown's Ranch: Improving Soil Health Improves the Bottom Line - IP440

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No-Till Case Study, Miller Farm: Restoring Grazing Land with Cover Crops - IP444

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No-Till Case Study, Richter Farm: Cover Crop Cocktails in a Forage-Based System - IP437

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Nutrient Cycling in Pastures - IP136

PDF Price: FREE

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Nutrient Management Plan (590) for Organic Systems - IP472

PDF Price: FREE

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Overview of Cover Crops and Green Manures - IP024

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Potting Mixes for Certified Organic Production - IP112

PDF Price: FREE

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Small-Scale Intensive Farm Publications CD - IP418

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Soil Health and Livestock: ATTRA Resources - IP512

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Soil Management: National Organic Program Regulations - IP270

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Soil Moisture Monitoring: Low-Cost Tools and Methods - IP277

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Sources of Organic Fertilizers and Amendments

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Sustainable Management of Soil-borne Plant Diseases - IP173

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Sustainable Soil Management - IP027

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Symphylans: Soil Pest Management Options - IP283

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Tipsheet: Assessing the Soil Resource for Beginning Organic Farmers - IP509

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Tipsheet: Compost - IP448

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Tipsheet: Manure in Organic Production Systems - IP502

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Vermicomposting: The Basics - IP454

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Worms for Bait or Waste Processing (Vermicomposting) - IP110

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⇒ Publications

Links to Other Soils Information

Fundamentals of Soils

Building Soils for Better Crops
SARE publication
USDA/NRCS Soils Website

Soil Quality

Cornell Soil Health
NRCS Soil Quality / Soil Health
Soil and Health Library
"The Soil & Health Library" is an excellent site that keeps many of the classic writings on organic farmingsuch as Sir Albert Howard's booksaccessible to us.

Soil Biology

Biological Soil Crusts
Biological Soil Crusts: Ecology and Management
(large PDF), United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management
Earthworm Information
Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis
Soil Biological Communities
Bureau of Land Management National Science & Technology Center
Soil Biology Primer
NRCS Soil Quality

Soil Organic Matter

Restoring the Productivity of Marginal Soils with Organic Amendments
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture
Soil Organic Matter
Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Organic Fertilizers and Amendments

National Organic Program
The National Organic Program website is the place to find and download copies of the Final Rule, learn about current NOSB recommendations, get a history of the National Organic Program, and more.
Nutrient Content of Fertilizer and Organic Materials
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Soil Fertility Management for Organic Crops
University of California

Composting

BioCycle: Journal of Composting & Organics Recycling
Compost Science and Utilization
Composting at Home: Ohio State Extension Fact Sheet
Cornell University Composting Home Page
Farmer Information Fact Sheets: Composting
Mortality Composting
Information on composting, disposal, and burial of dead animal carcasses and offal.
On-Farm Composting Handbook
Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service
U.S. Composting Council Education Resources

Vermicomposting

Earthworm Digest
Worms Eat My Garbage

Soil Conservation

Soil and Water Conservation Society
USDA/NRCS National Conservation Practice Standards

Crop Rotations, Cover Crops, Mulching, and No-till

Cover Crop Fundamentals
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet
Michigan Cover Crops
Michigan State University & Kellogg Biological Station
Midwest Cover Crops Council
No-tillage
UC SAREP Cover Crop Resource Page
Value of Legumes for Plowdown Nitrogen
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet

Soils for Pasture and Range Use

Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health
(PDF), United States Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Land Management
USDA/NRCS Range & Pasture

Nutrient Management Planning

Certified Manure Testing Laboratories
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stewardship Curriculum