How is soil health assessed2021-06-04T16:12:52+00:00

“Soil health” is an assessment of how well soil performs all of its functions now and how those functions are being preserved for future use. Soil health cannot be determined by measuring only crop yield, water quality, or any other single outcome. Soil health cannot be measured directly, so we evaluate indicators.

Indicators are measurable properties of soil or plants that provide clues about how well the soil can function. Indicators can be physical, chemical, and biological properties, processes, or characteristics of soils. They can also be morphological or visual features of plants.

Useful indicators:

  • are easy to measure,
  • measure changes in soil functions,
  • encompass chemical, biological, and physical properties,
  • are accessible to many users and applicable to field conditions, and
  • are sensitive to variations in climate and management.

Indicators can be assessed by qualitative or quantitative techniques. After measurements are collected, they can be evaluated by looking for patterns and comparing results to measurements taken at a different time or field. Ref: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/health/assessment/

What does soil biology mean?2021-06-04T16:11:07+00:00

What does “soil biology” mean? The creatures living in the soil are critical to soil health. They affect soil structure and therefore soil erosion and water availability. They can protect crops from pests and diseases. They are central to decomposition and nutrient cycling and therefore affect plant growth and amounts of pollutants in the environment. Finally, the soil is home to a large proportion of the world’s genetic diversity.

What does soil health mean?2021-06-04T16:09:45+00:00

“Soil health”, also referred to as soil quality, is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. This definition speaks to the importance of managing soils so they are sustainable for future generations. To do this, we need to remember that soil contains living organisms that when provided the basic necessities of life – food, shelter, and water – perform functions required to produce food and fiber.

Only “living” things can have health, so viewing soil as a living ecosystem reflects a fundamental shift in the way we care for our nation’s soils. Soil isn’t an inert growing medium, but rather is teaming with billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that are the foundation of an elegant symbiotic ecosystem. Soil is an ecosystem that can be managed to provide nutrients for plant growth, absorb and hold rainwater for use during dryer periods, filter and buffer potential pollutants from leaving our fields, serve as a firm foundation for agricultural activities, and provide habitat for soil microbes to flourish and diversify to keep the ecosystem running smoothly.

What is regenerative agriculture?2021-06-04T16:08:41+00:00

“Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.


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