Smart farmers know that healthy soil hosts a flourishing and diverse ecosystem of bacteria, fungi and invertebrates. But the complex relationships between soil life, productivity and resilience are not well understood. Now available from the Xerces Society and SARE, Farming with Soil Life: A Handbook for Supporting Soil Invertebrates and Soil Health on Farms is a user-friendly guide to identifying, understanding and better managing soil life to improve the sustainability of your farming system.
Written by the Xerces Society and published by SARE Outreach, Farming with Soil Life features photograph-filled profiles that outline how to observe and identify 73 soil organisms. Each profile includes the identification, description, ecological role, habitat, diet and life cycle of the highlighted species.
Farming with Soil Life also examines how producers can boost life in the soil using buffers, no-till cropping, cover cropping, crop rotations and other practices that encourage soil flora and fauna communities to thrive. Minimizing tillage, synthetic fertilizer use, and some pesticides and insecticides may also benefit soil biology.
Understanding the relationships between soil, soil life and crop production is key to defining and achieving goals within a sustainable production system. “Soil is a living, dynamic habitat for a great diversity of animals and plants. It supports the global carbon and nitrogen cycles. Healthy soils sequester carbon, helping to mitigate climate change. The more we learn, the more we understand that soil is an irreplaceable part of life."
Farming with Soil Life: A Handbook for Supporting Soil Invertebrates and Soil Health on Farms was written by Jennifer Hopwood, Stephanie Frischie, Emily May and Eric Lee-Mader. Download for free or order a print copy at https://www.sare.org/soil-life. Print copies can be ordered online for $28 each, plus shipping and handling. Call (301) 779–1007 for telephone, tax-free, rush or purchase orders. Discounts apply for orders of 10 or more copies.
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