Soil Health Tag

There’s nothing like a summer of vicious heat, drought, and grasshoppers to focus minds on the vital importance of healthy soil. Soil scientist Wallace Fuller said in 1975, “A cloak of loose, soft material, held to the Earth’s hard surface by gravity, is all that lies between life and lifelessness.” Across Montana, the summer of 2021 proved again just how crucial — and how vulnerable — that thin cloak of soil can be. Soil health is foundational to the resilience of land, and thus also to food systems, human health, and ecosystem function.
By Linda Poole, Regenerative Grazing Specialist...

“The Soil Health Innovations Conference occupies the cutting edge of soil health across the country – on-farm practices, soil biology, carbon markets, and public policy,” said Steve Thompson, NCAT executive director. “This set of videos adds to NCAT’s trusted knowledgebase and provides a free resource to any producer or land manager working to improve soil conditions.”...

Scientists in Canada are evaluating soil health by measuring enzymes involved in carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur nutrient cycles in the soil, counting fungi and bacteria varieties, and determining the ratio between the two. They are using these measurements to study the long-term soil health effects of different crop-growth systems, explains an American Society of Agronomy press release. The study found that fields in perennial grasses had the healthiest soils, with lots of biological activity and diverse microbes and fungi. Fields growing both a perennial grass and a legume called birdsfoot trefoil were especially healthy. In contrast, fields constantly growing...

Soil health has emerged as a central theme in conversations about the future of American agriculture. Soils have become a focal topic due to new scientific understanding, the application of emerging technologies, and a growing interest among producers and policymakers in improving climate resilience and mitigating emissions. NCAT's Soil Health Innovations Conference was held online with live-streamed speakers and panels, as well as virtual halls for exhibitors and student posters. The event allowed participants to network with exhibitors and sponsors and the producers, industry professionals, educators, and students who are at the cutting edge of soil health across the country. This video...

Multinational food giant Nestlé announced that it is investing $1.29 billion over the next five years to support and accelerate the transition to regenerative agriculture across its global supply chain, reports Food Dive. Nestlé says it will work with its 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers to promote practices that enhance biodiversity, soil conservation, regeneration of water cycles, and integration of livestock. Meanwhile, Cargill has announced its own regenerative agriculture program that will pay farmers for carbon sequestration and improved soil health, says a Successful Farming news story. The carbon-measurement firm Regrow will measure, report, and verify carbon outcomes for participating...

Kiss The Ground is offering scholarships to Soil Health Academy's Regenerative Agriculture 101 online course. The scholarships are available to beginning farmers and ranchers, student/young/intern farmers and ranchers, military veteran farmers and ranchers, and educators/influencers. The scholarships provide free, one-year access to the online training taught by a world-renowned teaching cadre. The course educates farmers and ranchers on how to increase profitability, build resiliency into their land, decrease input costs, and improve the nutrient density and the marketability of the agricultural products they produce. Anyone can apply anytime through an online rolling application. ...

Visiting other farms is always a joy and an education for me. I recently had the pleasure of visiting BDA Farm in Uniontown, Alabama, for a day-long workshop where we toured the farm and learned about its regenerative practices that build soil health and increase productivity and profitability of the farm.
By Linda Coffey, Livestock Specialist...

New market research shows that Iowa farmers are interested in working with their lenders to better understand and realize the benefits of soil health. Banking on Soil Health: Farmer Interest in Transition Loan Products, a report conducted by agriculture market research firm Beck Ag in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy, analyzes interviews with 100 Iowa farmers to understand their interest in adopting soil health practices and tests multiple ways agricultural lenders could support the transition. The analysis shows that farmers perceive a significant financial transition in adopting soil health practices. Although just 40% believe that soil...

In this episode of Voices from the Field, NCAT Agricultural and Natural Resource Economist Jeff Schahczenski talks with Aria McLauchlan and Harley Cross about how to measure the impact that soil health practices can have in mitigating the impacts of weather and climate disruption. Aria and Harley are co-founders of Land Core, a nonprofit organization advancing soil health policies and programs that create value for farmers, businesses, and communities. Land Core guided the successful passage of language supporting soil health at the USDA in both the House and Senate in 2019 and built a broad coalition that helped secure more than...

Our NCAT Gulf States team has been working hard throughout the pandemic to provide quality technical assistance to farmers that we’re known for. Instead of meeting with farmers in-person, we shifted to virtual events. In-person on-farm workshops will always be our favorite way to teach, but we found that there are benefits to embracing the virtual platform. One significant benefit was that we were able to record these virtual workshops and share them with a national audience.
By Nina Prater, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist ...

As a resilient bunch of plants, these native species have been planted in the deserts east of Los Angeles, the fog draped regions of the redwood forests, and everywhere in between. The goal of the project was to provide habitat to native species with a mix of 18 different hedgerow plants. A special addition of Narrow Leaf Milkweed was added to the mix in an effort to grow back a tiny portion of the Monarch butterfly habitat that has been removed in the name of development over recent decades.
By Omar Rodriguez, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist ...

Regenerative Livestock Specialist Justin Morris may be new to the National Center for Appropriate Technology, but he's no stranger to using grazing as a tool to improve pasture quality and soil health. In this interview with NCAT Program Specialist Tracy Mumma, Justin explains how he first became interested in managing grazing to improve the land resource and discusses how livestock producers can start using grazing as a tool. He goes on to describe what regenerative agriculture means to him and the positive effect that it can have on soil health, environmental health, and producer well-being. Related ATTRA Resources: Justin Morris Biography ATTRA Grazing...

In this episode, Mike Morris, NCAT’s Southwest Regional Director, talks with Dr. Barbara Bellows about her new ATTRA publication, Soil Health Indicators and Tests. Recent years have seen an explosion of new soil health tests, measuring a wide variety of indicators that depend on the activity of soil microorganisms. Dr. Bellows is a soil scientist with the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research at Tarleton State University. In this podcast, she explains how more than a dozen soil health test procedures actually work and offers practical advice on choosing a test that will meet your needs. Related ATTRA Resources: Soil Health Indicators and Tests Microbial...