28Feb/19
Dry crusted soil

Soil Health Nexus debuts new soil health resource

The Soil Health Nexus team is making it easier than ever to access valuable soil health information through their newly released Soil Health Toolbox. To date, the team has released resources on conducting on-farm-research that incorporates soil health, and is working on resources on 1) how soil health impacts water quality and flow through the landscape, and 2) understanding and measuring soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties.

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04Jan/19

Getting to the Science of Soil Health: USDA Releases Standard Indicators and Laboratory Procedures to Assess Soil Health

The enthusiasm for the soil health principles in some cases has gotten ahead of the science behind them. To address this, NRCS and the Agricultural Research Services (ARS) lead a diverse group of technical experts in selecting methods to assess six standard soil health indicators, which focus on key physical and biological process that must function well in healthy soils. The document titled “Recommended Soil Health Indicators and Associated Laboratory Procedures”, Technical Note No. 450 (PDF) was developed by a group of experts and provides information getting us closer to understanding the science behind soil health and how it is best measured.

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01Nov/18

Building Soil Organic Matter Takes Time

Our “instant” culture gravitates to testimonials about how to rapidly increase soil organic matter by 1% within 1 to 3 years. Conversations with lenders and landlords regarding rewards on manure applications and multi-species cover crops investments would likely be easier if financial rewards or measured soil physical properties came quickly.

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28Sep/18

Maintaining soil fertility is important for soil health

Maintaining soil fertility is important not only for profitable crop production, but also soil health. In a long-term P and K fertility trial, we can see that there is much greater residue cover in plots that have received adequate potash applications over time compared to where no K was applied. Application of P had minimal to no effect on residue cover.

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02Sep/18
Stan Boltz demonstrating infiltration with jars of soil

Demonstrations Teach Soil Health Comparisons

Have you ever wondered how to demonstrate differences in the health of soils? At a recent meeting of the Soil Health Nexus team, Stan Boltz of the South Dakota Natural Resources Conservation Service shared tips and tricks he uses when demonstrating soil health principles to producers and other farm advisors.

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01Aug/18
A saline-sodic headland along state Highway 5 East roadside ditch in Cavalier County, N.D.

Perennial Salt-Tolerant Covers for Saline-Sodic Headlands in NE North Dakota

Wet weather results in shallow groundwater depths and saturated soils, whereas, dry weather results in lower groundwater depths. Establishing a vegetative cover is the key to utilize excessive soil moisture, intercepting salt-carrying water before it will affect productive areas, reducing evaporation from the soil surface, adding organic material and increasing microbial activity. With time, these headlands might be planted with crops like wheat, canola and corn and soybean again.

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02Jul/18

Soil Health Parameters and Water Quality

As measuring soil health becomes more of a common practice, there are a variety of factors to consider based on location, soil type, and cropping system. So, which tests makes sense for you? To help address this question, Francisco Arriaga and Donna Brandt of the Soil Health Nexus team presented on Soil Health Parameters and Water Quality for the North Central Region Water Network’s The Current Webinar Series.

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04Jun/18
Spring rye growth at the same site.

Now Available: 2017 National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health Presentations

Videos and presentations from the 2017 National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health held on December 7-8, 2017 in Indianapolis are now available. Hosted by the Soil and Water Conservation Society with video development supported by SARE, the conference highlighted insights from some of the nation’s most innovative producers, conservation leaders and scientists on using cover crops to improve soil health.

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