The North Central Region Soil Health Nexus was initiated in 2016 with funding from the North Central Region Water Network. A North Central Soil Health Work Group with representatives from Land Grant Universities across the 12 state region convened to address the challenges of increasing access to soil health research, knowledge, extension and resources. A regional structure was initiated around the three areas of Research, Extension and Outreach, and Resources and Communications. The Nexus/MaSH interactive website serves the communication conduit for each area.
Over the past several years, state and federal agencies and researchers have been trying to come up with a definition for soil health. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service defines soil health as “the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.” Another definition that is embraced by many is the improved function in terms of crop yield response to inputs, such as fertilizer efficiency. Continue reading
Nitrate levels above the drinking water standard of 10 ppm are frequently found in subsurface drainage tile water or groundwater below farm fields of the upper Midwest. Nitrogen comes from applied manure and fertilizer, along with natural mineralization of organic matter.