The educational materials listed on this page are about Soil Management.
Soil management encompasses a number of strategies used by farmers and ranchers to protect soil resources, one of their most valuable assets. By practicing soil conservation, including appropriate soil preparation methods, they reduce soil erosion and increase soil stabilization. These soil conservation methods allow for healthy soil formation, soil fertility and favorable soil composition, including soil permeability and soil porosity, which lead to increased soil health. Soil organic matter is a critical component of soil health. Cover crops can help maintain or increase soil organic matter. By using a variety of soil management practices, soil organic matter will increase while soil erosion will decrease, keeping soil nutrients on the farm. Farmers typically use a soil analysis, or soil sampling procedure, to determine what inputs are needed. Key practices include composting, soil chemistry, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health, organic matter, cover crops, green manures, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil physics.
National Farmer Survey Documents a Wide Range of Cover Crop Benefits as Acreage Continues to Expand
Despite the crippling rainfall that significantly delayed planting across much of the country in 2019, more than 90% of farmers participating in a national cover crop survey reported that cover crops allowed them to plant earlier or at the same time as non-cover-cropped fields. Among those who had “planted green,” seeding cash crops into growing […]
Conservation Tillage Systems in the Southeast
This production manual provides comprehensive guidance on conservation tillage systems for farms in the southeastern United States. It covers the core components of conservation tillage systems and includes both regional considerations and producer experiences.
Free Fact Sheets Identify Broad Benefits of Cover Crops
Along with cutting costs and increasing crop productivity, cover crops provide various ecosystem services that benefit the environment both on and off the farm. For instance, adding cover crops to a rotation can significantly increase the portion of the year when living roots are present for soil organisms to feed on, which can have a […]
What is Soil Health?
Soil health plays an essential role in raising healthy, productive crops and livestock. With this interactive infographic, learn how practices such as cover crops, no-till, crop rotation and the integration of livestock work in concert to improve soil health.
Cover Crop Economics
Cover crops can build soil health, control weeds, conserve moisture, provide grazing opportunities and more. But when do they start to pay for themselves? This analysis looks at the economics behind different management scenarios to determine if cover crops are likely to improve profitability in one, three or five years of use in corn and soybean rotations.
Cultivating Climate Resilience on Farms and Ranches
This bulletin outlines the new challenges that changing weather patterns pose in agriculture throughout the United States, and what you can do to make your farm more resilient.
30 Years of SARE: Our Farms, Our Future
30 Years of SARE: Our Farms, Our Future tells the story of thousands of men and women who have led SARE and received SARE grants. They have one objective in common: making American agriculture stronger, more sustainable and better equipped to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.
10 Ways Cover Crops Enhance Soil HealthSoil health is a hot topic these days, one that is justifiably receiving considerable attention from farmers and their farm advisors. This short fact sheet highlights some of the key ways that cover crops improve soil health by influencing the biological and physical characteristics of the soil.
Improving Soil Health Through Cover Crops
Farmers around the country are discovering the power of cover crops to curb erosion and improve soil health. This video is from Pennsylvania, where a Penn State researcher and a grain farmer are partnering to spread the word.
Investing in the Future of Agriculture: How SARE Supports Farmer-Driven Sustainability
The most pressing challenges that face U.S. agriculture today require science-based solutions developed by partnerships of farmers, ranchers, researchers and educators. Discover how the SARE program enables such partnerships to flourish and meet the needs of agricultural communities across the country.
Economic and Environmental Aspects of Cover Crops
- Economics of Cover Crops
- Business Opportunities with Cover Crops and Soil Health
- Environmental Impacts of Cover Crop Systems
Special Topics with Cover Crops and Soil Health
- Organic and Specialty Crops
- Grazing Cover Crops
- Soil Health Policy Issues
How to Conduct Research on Your Farm or Ranch
This 32-page bulletin outlines how to conduct research at the farm level, offering practical tips for both crop and livestock producers, as well as a comprehensive list of more in-depth resources.
Capitalize on the booming organic industry. This topic room has resources on organic systems, pest management, animal production, marketing, certification, conservation and much more.
2017 National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health
Session recordings are available from the second National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health. The event served as an opportunity to learn recent developments in how cover crops are being used by innovative farmers across the country and gain important insights on improving soil health from producers, conservation leaders and scientists. It was held December 7-8, 2017 in Indianapolis.
Recordings of General Sessions
- Opening remarks by Jane Hardisty (USDA-NRCS Indiana) with video message Bill Northey (Iowa Secretary of Agriculture)
- Keynote: Growing a Revolution - Bringing Our Soil Back to Life, by David Montgomery (University of Washington)
- Farmer panel: Experiences with Cover Crops and Soil Health, with Dan DeSutter (Ind.), Trey Hill (Md.) and Jimmy Emmons (Okla.)
- Top 10 Ways Cover Crops Build Soil Health, by Rob Myers (North Central SARE)
- Plenary session: Carbonomics, by Keith Berns (Neb. farmer and Green Cover Seed)
Basics of Cover Cropping
- Introduction to Cover Crops
- Selecting and Establishing Cover Crops
- Terminating Cover Crops Plus Strategies for Planting a Cash Crop Following Cover Crops
Advanced Cover Cropping Insights from Farmer Experts
- Great Plains Perspective
- Central Corn Belt Perspective
- Eastern Perspective
Digging into Soil Health
- Soil Health Principles
- Soil Health Testing and Practices
- Soil Biology and Organic Matter
Cover Crop Role in the Cropping System
- Cover Crops and Nutrient Management
- Cover Crop Impacts on Diseases and Insects
- Cover Crops, Herbicides and Dealing with Herbicide-Resistant Weeds