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.
The Toolbox provides critical soil health information and resources to extension educators, farm advisors and state and federal agency personnel. In particular, the on-farm research portion of the Toolbox helps answer four questions:
- Should I host on-farm research? Here you can find information on finding the right farmer cooperator, sound research design, and on farm-research opportunities.
- How can I successfully implement on-farm research? Once you have decided to do on-farm research, you’ll need tools to help you along the way. The Toolbox includes tips and sample protocols for planning your field experiment, measuring and gathering data, and collecting and analyzing that data.
- How can I share results of on-farm research? Once you have results, the next step is sharing them! The Nexus provides advice on how to report results, plan a field day, demonstrate soil health principles under field conditions, and evaluate your field day’s impact.
- Should I involve citizen scientists? Involving citizens is a great way educate and involve your community. The Toolbox provides information on what groups to include, what the activities to include, and how to be a part of a larger project.
Members of the Soil Health Nexus along with extension partners across the region, Soil Health Partnership, and Practical Farmers of Iowa worked to provide a wealth of resources on these topics, but there is always room for improvement. The team continues to look for ways to build and improve and has included a link to a survey on each page of the Toolbox for views to provide their input, suggest changes, or provide additional resources for inclusion.
The Nexus team is hard at work on the other components of the Toolbox, which will be based on the results of a comprehensive soil health survey which was distributed to producers, state and federal agency personnel, extension educators, and advisors last year.
The team is also planning a Soil Health Field Days event in Columbia, Missouri on May 29-30, 2019. The field day is designed for extension educators, farm advisors and agency personnel who would like additional education on various soil health topics including indicators of soil health, properties and practices that affect soil health, barriers to adopting practice, field assessments, and demonstrations.
Access the Toolbox on the Soil Health Nexus website. More information on the upcoming field day, and results from the soil health survey will be posted in the coming months. And make sure to join the team’s mailing list to get the all latest updates on their work!