As part of the Soil Health Nexus Digital Cafe Series, Jerry Hatfield, retired USDA-ARS Plant Physiologist/Laboratory Director, presents “Pathway to Resilient Soils to Achieve Optimum Productivity and Environmental Quality”. This presentation was originally broadcast on May 19, 2021.
Soil health is the pathway to improved soil function with the goal of increasing soil water availability, nutrients, and support for the growing crop. Increasing soil health has been linked to a reduction in tillage intensity, using cover crops, increasing crop diversity, integrating livestock, and utilizing manures, composts, or bio-based nutrients. These practices add carbon into the soil which serves as the source of energy for soil biological systems. Observed changes within fields show that implementing these practices reduces yield variation within fields and reduces the sensitivity to weather variation within and among growing seasons. The collective change in the soil enhances the sustainability and resilience of agricultural systems.