Soil Health - The continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital living system that sustains plant, animal and human health.
The 4 key factors for a healthy soil are:
- Limit soil disturbance - no till, minimum till.
- Keep the soil covered at all times - no till, perennial crops & cover crops.
- Diversity - crop rotations and cover crops (multi-species cover crops).
- Keep a live root in the soil as long as possible - perennial crops & cover crops.
Conservation practices that promote a healthy soil include:
- No till, strip till, residue management.
- Conservation crop rotation - diversity.
- Nutrient Management - reduced fertilizer use.
- Pest Management - reduced pesticide use.
- Livestock Management - keep on the landscape.
Key benefits from a healthy soils for farmers and the public:
- Increased net profit per acre.
Fuel, time & labor - fewer trips across the field.
Fertilizers - improved nutrient cycling requires fewer inputs.
Pesticides - fewer weeds and diseases.
Reduced erosion & sedimentation.
- Increased drought tolerance - more water holding capacity.
- Increased yield protection & stability.
- improved wildlife habitat.