University Research Based Soil Health Resources No One Should be Without

Extension educators, crop consultants, and farmers working to improve soil health now have practical in the office or in the field resources. The new Iowa Soil Health Management Manual, Field Guide and a Soil Health Assessment Card are available at no cost.

The Iowa Soil Health Management Manual, Iowa Soil Health Field Guide, and Iowa Soil Health Assessment Card were recently published to increase understanding of soil health concept and their awareness of best management practices to protect soil health. These three publications are a collaborative effort between Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and can now be ordered or downloaded for free at the Extension Store.

The manual, field guide and assessment card were developed as sources of information for farmers, agronomists and other agriculture professionals to use in managing soils and documentation of how different management practices affect soil.

“These publications are unique by introducing a concise and practical synthesis of soil health concepts where readers can link principles of soil health to actual management practices that build soil health,” said Mahdi Al-Kaisi, professor of agronomy and extension soil management specialist at Iowa State University.

The Iowa Soil Health Field Guide highlights the relationship between soil characteristics and provides information about soil health and its importance to sustainable agriculture systems. The Iowa Soil Health Management Manual provides information about soil functions and services that are essential for sustainable agriculture systems, and the Iowa Soil Health Assessment Card includes rating descriptions for each indicator presented on the score card that represents the worst and best soil conditions at the time of evaluation.

“The materials serve as a source for understanding the concept of soil health, and for educational purposes and soil health promotion,” said Al-Kaisi. “The soil assessment card is easy to use in diagnosing soil health field indicators and potential solutions or recommendations to improve soil health.”

Print and electronic versions of the publications are now available online at the Extension Store. The publications are free of charge; a shipping and handling fee is required for the print versions. For questions regarding the publications or information about soil health, please contact Mahdi Al-Kaisi at 515-294-8304 or

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