Digging into Soil Health

2017 National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health

SARE Outreach

National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health logo

Session recordings on this page include:

Soil Health Principles

Regenerating soil health and critical functions is key to achieving full soil productivity. During this session you will hear about the following soil health principles:

  • How soil functions differ under different management practices and how those practices influence the entire ecosystem
  • How key management principles can be used to provide a favorable habitat that allows the billions of soil organisms to provide vital services and begin the work of rebuilding soil health
  • Outline of practical cropping system strategies to increase food and cover for enhancing soil life

Wayne Honeycutt, Soil Health Institute (PDF)

Barry Fisher, USDA-NRCS Indiana (PDF)

Soil Health Testing and Practices

Receive high-quality assistance and soil health management planning from conservation planners with new in-field and laboratory soil health assessments, and obtain standardized, regional appropriate soil health indicators to provide consistency for monitoring the impact of management practices over time. Highlights of this session include:

  • Identify soil health constraints that are not discernible by in-field qualitative methods
  • Understand the impact of management decisions on soil health
  • View updated national template for in-field qualitative soil health assessment
  • Integrate soil health assessments into conservation planning

Bianca Moebius-Clune, USDA-NRCS Washington, D.C. (PDF)

Brandon Smith, USDA-NRCS New Hampshire (PDF)

See Bianca Moebius-Clune and Brandon Smith video, above.

Soil Biology and Organic Matter

Gaining a better understanding of how soil biology and soil organic matter are impacted by management decisions is important for improving soil health. Highlights of this session include:

  • Creating a field environment that helps soil organisms thrive
  • Understanding the interactions among soil organisms, of which there may be trillions in a single acre
  • Building soil organic matter and feeding the food web—how cover crops pay by improving the soil ecosystem in a way that supports cash crops
  • Digging into the various forms of soil organic matter, some of which exist short term and some of which benefit the soil and soil biology over the long term

Jennifer Moore-Kucera, USDA-NRCS Oregon (PDF)

Ray Weil, University of Maryland (PDF)

The following session recordings are available: