Study Identifies Soil Health as Shared Priority

A new study from the University of Illinois and The Ohio State University surveyed Midwestern farmers, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) employees, and agricultural researchers about their conceptualizations and prioritization of soil health and common soil tests. The results revealed that farmers are much more concerned about soil health than academics and professionals thought, and that there is surprising agreement on how all three groups conceptualized soil health. Although all groups said they value soil health tests that incorporate measurements of soil microbial activity, farmers aren’t often using them, indicating a barrier to be overcome. The study concludes that, given broad agreement on the importance of soil health, efforts can transition from introducing the concept of soil health to measuring the benefits of practices that improve soil health.