Soil Management

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 compostingsoil chemistrynutrient mineralizationsoil quality/healthorganic mattercover cropsgreen manuressoil analysissoil microbiologysoil physics.

What is Soil Health, to begin exploring the relationship between on-farm practices, soil health and complex web of life in the soil. Building Soils for Better Crops helps farmers determine the best soil management strategies to employ on their farm. Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual may be useful for farmers who want to use crop rotations to improve soil fertility and soil composition. Diversifying Cropping Systems identifies practices that enhance diversity on farms, making soils and crops less susceptible to pests, diseases and weeds. Producers can gain knowledge about the importance of soil and crop management strategies by visiting the Cover Crop Topic Room.

Showing 1-20 of 114 results

What is Sustainable Agriculture report cover

¿Qué es la Agricultura Sostenible?

A simple way to think about sustainable agriculture is that it involves producing enough food and fiber to satisfy today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. Farmers and ranchers who value sustainability embrace three common goals while running productive operations: To achieve these sustainability goals, a farmer typically views […]

a man poses with a hoe in front of his urban farm

New SARE Bulletin: Best Practices for the Sustainable Urban Farm

For decades, urban farms and community gardens have helped meet demand for fresh and local produce. Urban farming creatively utilizes limited space, conserves land and transforms vacant lots or buildings into productive greenspaces. Farming in cities can be a rewarding way for communities to grow healthy food while receiving a wide range of other interrelated environmental, […]

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Best Practices for the Sustainable Urban Farm

For decades, urban farms and community gardens have helped meet the demand for fresh, local produce. Urban farms are diverse and adaptable, ranging from small farms on repurposed vacant lots to multilevel vertical farms and rooftop gardens. Often, they combine ecological farming practices with some form of infrastructure. Urban growers make clever use of their […]

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New SARE Bulletin: What is Sustainable Agriculture?

SARE’s newly revised What is Sustainable Agriculture? publication provides a primer to practices that can help farmers and ranchers improve the sustainability of any complex, integrated production and marketing system. 

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What is Sustainable Agriculture?

This award-winning report provides a sampler of best practices in sustainable agriculture—from marketing and community vitality to cover crops and grazing—as well as eight profiles of producers, educators and researchers who have successfully implemented them.

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America's Heartland "Leaders in Sustainable Agriculture" Now Available on YouTube

SARE recently partnered with PBS KVIE to produce an episode of RFD-TV's America's Heartland featuring four farmers describing their commitment to sustainability, how they plan to overcome modern farming challenges, and how SARE has impacted their farming and ranching practices.  The full 24-minute episode titled Leaders in Sustainable Agriculture is now available at https://www.sare.org/resources/leaders-in-sustainable-agriculture/. Watch: Videos featuring each […]

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Leaders in Sustainable Agriculture Featured on America's Heartland

SARE partnered with PBS KVIE to produce an episode of RFD-TV's America's Heartland that features four farmers describing their commitment to sustainability, how they plan to meet farming challenges of today and tomorrow, and how SARE has impacted their farming and ranching practices.  The full 24-minute video is available, as is each segment featuring the […]

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RFD-TV Episode to Highlight Sustainable Innovations

Tune in to RFD-TV on March 29 at 5:30pm EDT for the premiere of a new “America’s Heartland” episode showcasing farmers and ranchers from across the country who are leaders in sustainability.  SARE partnered with PBS KVIE to produce this episode, which features farmers describing their commitment to sustainability, how they plan to meet farming […]

Cover of Farming with Soil Life book featuring boots on the ground, showing soil and a few insect images.

Farming with Soil Life

This handbook, created by The Xerces Society, dives into soil biology. It provides a connection between healthy soils and healthy invertebrates found in temperate agricultural soils. Farming with Soil Life starts with a review of soil basics, including the functions, classifications and properties (physical, biological and chemical) of soil. It provides detailed methods on how […]

transitioning to organic production guide

New SARE Bulletin: Transitioning to Organic Production

Since the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act passed, the market for organic products has steadily risen. In 2020, organic sales skyrocketed to an all-time high, motivating many farmers to consider transitioning their farms to organic production. While organic production can help farmers gain access to new markets, improve soil and increase profits, the transition process […]

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Manage Weeds on Your Farm Video Series

In this series, experienced farmers from around the country talk about how they have found success controlling weeds by following ecological principles, and without resorting to the use of herbicides. To do so, they rely on a range of cultural and mechanical practices, including diverse crop rotations, well-timed cultivation and targeting weeds when they're at […]

transitioning to organic production guide

Transitioning to Organic Production

Transitioning to Organic Production lays out many promising conversion strategies, covering typical organic farming production practices, innovative marketing ideas and federal standards for certified organic crop production.

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Farmer-Focused Innovations Funded by SARE

“Institutionalized food is the forgotten part of the food revolution,” says Ann Swanson, talking about the lack of fresh produce available from local institutions in her community of Champaign–Urbana, IL. Inspired, Swanson used a SARE Farmer/Rancher grant to create new opportunities for local farmers, launch a series of educational classes and expand institutional capacity to […]

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Manage Weeds on Your Farm: An Ecological Approach

SARE’s newest book, "Manage Weeds on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies," examines the biology and behavior of common weeds and provides an integrated set of non-chemical control strategies that exploits their weaknesses.

Report from the Field Cover Image breadfruit farmer

2021–2022 Report from the Field

Report from the Field features 12 stories from around the country of recent SARE grantees who are finding new ways to improve the sustainability of U.S. agriculture. The report also summarizes our total investment in research and education projects since 1988.

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Soil Health Principles and Practices Videos

Experienced farmers and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) provide information on managing and improving soil health. Farmers discuss practices such as cover cropping, and using mulch and compost to improve soil health.

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Building Soils for Better Crops

The fourth edition of Building Soils for Better Crops—enhanced and expanded—explains how to use ecological principles to build soil health and boost fertility, yields and overall sustainability.

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New "Conservation Tillage and Soil Health" Video from SARE

The newest episode of SARE’s “What is Sustainable Agriculture?” animation series illustrates how many producers are retiring conventional tillage equipment and turning to conservation tillage to improve soil health and productivity. “Conservation Tillage and Soil Health” provides a short, animated outline of the basic principles of conservation tillage that can be used to introduce or […]