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 35 results

In Northern Colorado, Building Soil Takes Time

For anyone focused on building or rebuilding healthy soils, it’s worth remembering that soil took eons to develop initially. Improving it doesn’t happen overnight. That’s a lesson farmers and ranchers are learning in northern Colorado through a Citizen Science Soil Health Project funded by Western SARE. The three-year, three-county project provides free soil testing and […]

Food Safety and Conservation Co-Management: A Guide for Hawai‘i Growers

A guide for Hawaii farmers interested in improving their efforts towards food safety and improving natural resource conservation, through co-management practices. This document acts as a resource to both learn more about suitable techniques while reviewing pros and cons as shared by local producers, as well as provide template language and guidance towards implementing such […]

Estimating Plant-Available Nitrogen Release from Cover Crops

This Oregon State University fact sheet explains the basics of plant-available nitrogen (PAN); when to kill cover crops for the maximum PAN benefit; step-by-step instructions on how to perform site-specific measurements to predict PAN from your cover crop; and case studies from the Willamette Valley.

Highlighting Innovations in Soil Health

On March 8-9, 2021, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) held the first Soil Health Innovations conference. Originally scheduled last year as an in-person conference in Montana, the conference was postponed due to COVID and expanded as a nationwide virtual conference with 675 participants. The live stream event included speakers and panels, as well […]

Can Cover-cropping and Grazing Work with Dryland Grain Farming?

Farmers know that planting one crop year after year is asking for trouble. It depletes the soil and leads to increased insect, weed and disease pressures. But in certain places, it’s also been the major agricultural system for decades. In north-central Washington, along the Canadian border, dryland wheat production has been the dominate production system […]

A Sunn Hemp Cover Crop for Soil Health and Nematode Management

These University of Hawaii fact sheets and virtual field day explain how to use sunn hemp as a cover crop to control weeds, nematodes and other pests, add soil nutrients, prevent erosion, and contribute to a more robust and complex community of beneficial nematodes. Available fact sheets include: Using Sunn Hemp as a Cover Crop […]

Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems Project

Public concerns regarding pesticide misuse, food safety, water use and contamination, and depletion of non-renewable resources have motivated the reevaluation of some of the practices of conventional agriculture and the exploration of alternative, more sustainable approaches to growing food. In 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems (SAFS) project was established at the University of California’s […]

Mixed Cover Crops

An informational video on the pros and cons of planting mixed cover crops which are often used to replace fallow. Focus is on effects of cover crops on soil quality in semi-arid regions.

On-Farm Internship Training Binder

The Placer Ag Futures Project was conceived as a response to critical issues affecting local agricultural sustainability. This project was intended to help grow a new crop of agricultural professionals that are trained in sustainable agricultural practices. One part of the Ag Futures Project was the on-farm internship training. The summer internship program consisted of […]

Nutrient Management Plans: Idaho

This is a collaborative project to build the capacity of conservation professionals to assist organic and transitional farmers in planning and implementing conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative. This guide is part of a series of guides created by Oregon Tilth for use by NRCS staff in the Western Region. This document is […]

Nutrient Management Plans: California

This is a collaborative project to build the capacity of conservation professionals to assist organic and transitional farmers in planning and implementing conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative. This guide is part of a series of guides created by Oregon Tilth for use by NRCS staff in the Western Region. This document is an instruction […]

Cover Crops in Organic Systems: Oregon

This document provides an overview of how the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service NRCS Cover Crop 340 conservation practice can be implemented on organic operations in Oregon.

Cover Crops in Organic Systems: Idaho

This document provides an overview of how the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service NRCS Cover Crop 340 conservation practice can be implemented on organic operations in Idaho.

Building Soils in Alaska Communities

Many Alaska communities have stated an interest in food production but perceive that a lack of adequate soils inhibits gardening. Most Alaskan producers confront related soil problems, such as thin root zones, nutrient-poor soils with low organic material contents, and some issues with permafrost. Despite the high cost of shipping, some producers actually import all of their garden soils from the continental United States on a barge, unaware that many of the necessary soil components can be found locally. This video demonstrates soil building and raised bed construction.

Tea Time in the Tropics

This book critically evaluates the phenomenon of compost tea and provides a thorough discussion of the composition and process of making compost.