Our Vision

The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition, led by farmers and ranchers, supports the advancement of land stewardship and profitability by nurturing life from the soil up.

Soil Health School Registration Open!

The 2024 South Dakota Soil Health School is set for Aug. 26-28 in Huron, SD, and it is designed for agricultural producers as well as anyone with an interest in learning how to manage soils for resiliency and profit. The agenda features classroom style presentations by producers and technical experts from across the state and region, as well as hands-on experiences in the field. Area producers will share their challenges and successes with various methods for improving soil health, to an average class size of 30-40.

News & Events

Regenerative ag pioneer to present workshop in Fort Pierre

Regenerative ag pioneer to present workshop in Fort Pierre

By Stan Wise PIERRE, SD – Producers and land stewards who practice regenerative agriculture often enjoy learning about what is happening under the ground. In August, they’ll have a chance to learn from a visitor from Down Under. Australia, that is. Regenerative ag...

Coalition plans additional Soil Health School for West River

Coalition plans additional Soil Health School for West River

By Stan Wise PIERRE, SD – Since 2016, the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition has held an annual Soil Health School to offer an intensive educational experience that combines classroom instruction with hands-on field exercises. However, those schools have been held...

Grazing livestock on cropland pays off

Grazing livestock on cropland pays off

By Stan Wise PIERRE, SD – The core idea behind the regenerative agriculture movement is a simple one: Mimic nature. What did farmland look like before it was farmed, and how can producers make their operations look more like that picture? This concept lies at the...

Our Mission

The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition works in collaboration with agriculturalists to support the implementation of practices to improve soil health. Our producer-led organization offers resources, training, and events that demonstrate how healthy soil results in vibrant communities.

5 Principles of soil health

1. Soil Cover

Keep plant residues on the soil surface. Look down, what percentage of your soil is protected by residue? Erosion needs to be minimized before you can start building soil health.

2. Limited Disturbance

Minimize physical, chemical, and biological disturbance as much as possible. You will start building soil aggregates, pore spaces, soil biology, and organic matter.

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3. Living Roots

Keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil. Cover crops can add carbon to the soil, providing a great food source for micro-organisms. Try to add a perennial to your system. Start small to find the best fit for your operation.

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4. Diversity

Try to mimic nature. Use cool and warm season grasses and broad leaf plants as much as possible, with three or more crops and cover crops in rotation. Grassland and cropland plant diversity increases soil and animal health.

5. Integrating Livestock

Fall/winter grazing of cover crops and crop residue increases livestock’s plane of nutrition at a time when pasture forage quality can be low, increases the soil biological activity on cropland, and improves nutrient cycling. Proper grassland management improves soil health.

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Soil Health Benefits

Organic Matter

Builds organic matter which retains and cycles nitrogen and sequesters carbon; which in turn reduces fertilizer and fuel costs.

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Water Infiltration

Improves water infiltration and retention which helps to better manage the effects of flood or drought and improves trafficability.

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Water Quality

Healthy soils filter and clean water that moves through it, for improved water quality.

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Reduced Erosion

Stabilizes soil aggregates which improves resistance to erosion by wind and water.

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Wildlife Habitat

Enhances wildlife habitat and balances the biological community above and below ground.

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DID YOU KNOW?

Healthy soil will be key to feeding 9 billion people by 2050.

Earthworm populations consume 2 tons of dry matter per acre per year, partly digesting and mixing it to form healthy soil.

Healthy soil is made of about 45% minerals 25% water 5% organic matter and 25% air.

One teaspoon of healthy soil contains 100 million–1 billion individual bacteria.