Our Vision

A collective effort to increase sustainable ag production through diversification and improved soil health.

News & Events

Soil health gardening: Less weeding, more fun

Soil health gardening: Less weeding, more fun

By Stan Wise South Dakota Soil Health Coalition Wouldn’t it be nice to have a large summer garden without all the weeding? By using a few soil health practices, South Dakota gardeners might just be able to pull that off while improving the structure and fertility of...

Planting green: Rethinking cropland management

Planting green: Rethinking cropland management

By Stan Wise South Dakota Soil Health Coalition PIERRE, SD – If you overhear farmers at the local coffee spot talking about “planting green,” they’re probably not discussing the paint on their equipment. They’re more likely referring to a new way of thinking about...

Our Mission

The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition is a producer led, non-profit, membership organization that was created in the spring of 2015. The Coalition is governed by a nine-member board of farmers and ranchers from across the state and includes several staff members. Staff and board members strive to carry out the Coalition’s mission to “Promote Improved Soil Health” through education and research.

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.

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2. Limited Disturbance

Minimize tillage 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. 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.

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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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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.