Soil health is defined by the USDA NRCS as the continued capacity of a soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans. These functions include maintaining plant productivity, regulating and partitioning water, filtering and buffering against pollutants, and storing and cycling nutrients.
Soil health as we know it depends on management and generally boils down to organic matter and porosity, two physical properties that are highly dependent on soil texture. When we have higher organic matter we have, greater water infiltration, lower bulk density, higher EC (Electro Conductivity), higher respiration, greater soil nitrogen, greater aggregate stability, more earthworms and more soil microbes.
To improve soil health farmers should consider implementing a practice or combination of practices that depend on soil texture, soil health status, and constraints of their farming system. The practices include minimizing disturbance, maximize time with living roots, keep the soil covered, and diversifying rotations.
Published on May 21, 2019
The second webinar in this series highlights research at MSU on interseeding cover crops into standing corn.
Published on May 14, 2019
The “% of Exchangeable Bases” on your MSU soil test report gives insight into nutrient balances in your soil.
Published on May 1, 2019
MSU Extension’s Field Crop Virtual Breakfast continues May 9 with a discussion on early-season soil fertility with Kurt Steinke.
Published on April 19, 2019
A look at soil temperatures in Michigan in the last 10 years gives a glimpse into when soils typically reach optimum levels for seedling emergence.