healthy soil

There’s a whole new generation of “soil mates” working to unlock the secrets in the soil. / USDA

The hope in healthy soil is taking root across America.

Farmers, ranchers, researchers, conservationists, non-profit organizations, foodies and others are all working to help regenerate our working lands by improving the health of function of our nation’s soil. So inspired by what they’re learning about the hope in healthy soil, there’s a whole new generation of “soil mates” working to unlock the secrets in the soil.

Here are five signs you might be one of them:

  1. When you drive by a freshly plowed field, you feel sad knowing that the habitat for trillions upon trillions of soil microbes is being disrupted—and that much of the rain that falls on that freshly plowed field will simply run off, carrying sediment and inputs with it.
  2. You eagerly look for roots, pores, nodules and organisms in a shovel full of soil and reflexively smile when you smell the earthy aroma of healthy soil that’s teeming with life.
  3. You nod approvingly when you see cover crops growing in field after harvest, knowing that water will infiltrate easily into the soil profile and that living roots will be feeding the microorganisms throughout the year.
  4. You swell with pride when you talk to farmers who are demonstrating that we can actually build our soils—make them more productive, profitable and resilient to weather extremes like drought—and you feel assured knowing that through soil health, we can store an amazing amount of carbon in the ground where it will feed the organisms that nurture the crops that feed the world.
  5. You find yourself enthusiastically espousing the basics and benefits of soil health to family, friends and anyone else who will listen because you want to spread the good news about the on- and off-farm benefits of healthy soil.

If you show three or more of the signs above, you’re in good company. You’re among a growing number of soil mates throughout the world who realize that the promise of our future lies in our living and life-giving soil.

This article was originally posted on USDA.Department of Agricutlture’s website by Ron Nichols.