We strongly advocate a holistic management approach. As with human health, we have the ability to diagnose problems through observations and testing. If problems are identified, the patient and physician develop strategies to address them. This may include a change in diet, exercising, a pill, or even surgery. There are often multiple ways and combinations to reach the same goal, depending on personal preferences and circumstances. Similarly for soil health, what makes sense on any individual farm depends on the soils, the climate, the nature of the farm enterprise, the surrounding region, potential markets, and the farm’s needs and goals. The tests and observations provide useful guidance to help target constraints, but there is rarely a simple recipe. We wish it was that easy. Holistic soil health management requires an integrative understanding of the processes, which is basically the purpose behind this book.
Start with regularly testing your soils, preferably using comprehensive soil health analyses, and applying amendments only when they are needed. Testing soils on each field every two or three years is one of the best investments you can make. If you keep the report forms, or record the results, you will be able to follow soil health changes over the years. Monitoring soil test changes will help you fine-tune your practices. Also, maintaining your pest scouting efforts and keeping records of those over the years will allow you to evaluate improvements in that area.