Soil is a foundational resource to farming, conservation and health in the 21st century. Soil health, also referred to as soil quality in the past, is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. Key concepts of soil health and ecological soil management include protecting soil habitat; managing more by disturbing less; keeping soil covered, diversifying food and carbon sources for soil microorganisms; diversifying plant and animal communities; and growing living roots throughout the year.
"That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics." ~ Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
USDA-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), an organizational partner, recently developed an interactive infographic on why soil health is so important and what can be done to build soil health? Dig into SARE's interactive infographic to learn more about production practices that can help build healthy soil. You can also explore the on-farm benefits of using cover crops, crop rotation, manure amendments, composting and more on the complex web of life below the surface of the soil.