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David Sparks Ph.d Soil health partnership
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: April 12, 2018

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The Soil Health Partnership commemorated World Soil Day by encouraging farmers to reflect on steps they can take to make their land healthier. The Soil Health Partnership or SHP stresses the importance of soil as one of our most vital resources. “Soil health is the next frontier in agricultural sustainability,” said Nick Goeser, SHP director. “Restoring organic matter through practices like growing cover crops will help soil sequester more carbon while making it more resistant to drought, and more resilient to floods. These are important goals worldwide as the population grows.”

With more than 65 farm sites already enrolled in nine Midwestern states, the SHP is the leader in field-scale testing and measuring of management practices that improve soil health. These practices include:

• Growing cover crops to prevent erosion and nutrient losses,  

• Implementing conservation tillage like no-till or strip-till, and

• Using advanced, science-based nutrient management techniques to reduce nutrient loss.

The program’s goal is to quantify the benefits of these practices from an economic standpoint, in addition to positive environmental benefits they provide, like protecting water resources.

“By changing some practices, farmers hold the power to rebuild organic matter in their soil,” the white board video says. “This helps the planet by improving crops and removing excess carbon from the atmosphere….More organic matter in the soil means better soils for farming, healthy crops, and protecting the environment.”

The Soil Health Partnership aims to connect people with soils and raise awareness on their critical importance in our lives. In 2002, the International Union of Soil Sciences made a resolution proposing the 5th of December as World Soil Day to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human wellbeing.

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