The Five Principles of Soil Health
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.
Minimize tillage as much as possible. You will start building soil aggregates, pore spaces, soil biology, and organic matter.
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.
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.
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.
News & Events
Craig Rau produces a variety of crops and cattle on his farm in northcentral South Dakota. Image Courtesy of SDSHC and USDA-NRCS South Dakota. By Lynn Betts For South Dakota Soil Health Coalition PIERRE, SD – Like most South Dakota farmers and ranchers, Craig Rau has...
By Stan Wise South Dakota Soil Health Coalition For many producers, knowing that soil health is important just isn’t enough. The challenge for them is how to pay for it. “Conservation is not cheap,” Marshall County producer Dennis Fagerland said. Soil health is...
By Lynn Betts For South Dakota Soil Health Coalition As concerns continue to build about a widespread drought across South Dakota this year, the state’s farmers and ranchers face yet another stressful year. Two exceptionally wet years in 2018 and 2019 followed by...