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 20 results

Urban Farmers Adopt More Efficient Soil Management Practices

THE CHALLENGE When it comes to keeping their soils healthy and productive, most farmers willingly put in the work. For urban growers like Adam and Melissa Millsap, who operate Urban Roots Farm, an intensive production system on less than one acre near downtown Springfield, Missouri, soil management can come with unique challenges. They say that […]

North Dakota Farmers Pursue Soil Stewardship Through Cover Crops

THE CHALLENGE The practice of planting a cover crop holds many opportunities for farmers. Cover crops can build soil health, curb erosion, control weeds, improve water and nutrient management, and increase the bottom line. In North Dakota, they have the potential to reduce soil salinity by using excess water, which is a problem on hundreds […]

Traditional Fertilizer, Modern Applications for Iroquois White Corn

Farmers have long relied on liquid fish fertilizers because they are a source burn-free nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Traditional Native American growers were well aware of the benefits that decaying fish could bring to their soil; they buried fish under mounded soil and planted the 3 Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) directly on top of […]

Cover Crop-based Reduced Tillage for Fall Production of Cabbage,Cauliflower and Broccoli Using a Roller-Crimper and No-Till Planting Aid

Cover crops can reduce erosion, improve soil health, slow weeds, enhance nutrient and moisture availability, control pests, and offer other benefits to vegetable producers. After vegetable grower, Thomas Ruggieri, planted cover crops on his farm in rural Clay County, Missouri in 2004, he noticed dramatic improvement in soil fertility and plant health. Ruggieri and Rebecca […]

Managing the Environment in High Tunnels for Cool Season Vegetable Production

Light, temperature, and relative humidity influence how crops grow and develop. With support from SARE, Purdue University Extension developed this publication, which introduces important factors to consider during design, operation, and daily management of high tunnels, and explains plant responses to the environment.

Soil Scientist Makes Case for “Active C” Soil Test

It can be somewhat surprising to learn that the largest amount of carbon present on the land is not in the living plants, but in soil organic matter; the carbon stored in all the world’s soils is more than three times the amount in the atmosphere. Some farmers are adopting carbon-building management practices in order to reduce carbon loss from […]

Research Team Studies Biofuel Cropping System to Increase Crop Profitability

The North Central region has over 11 million acres of claypan and claypan-like soil areas that are disproportionate sources of nonpoint pollution and soil quality degradation when used for grain production. Hank Stelzer wanted to determine whether a short-rotation willow biofuel cropping system on claypan soil could improve crop profitability, but establishing a willow crop […]

Producers and Researchers Collaborate to Improve Soil Health in North Dakota

Soil—and whole farms—have been renewed through soil-improving practices like cover crops and no till. In the semiarid plains of western North Dakota, a team of producers and researchers are working to boost soil health for improved yield stability, farm income, and natural resource health of farms. The Southwest North Dakota Soil Health Project is a […]

Handbook for Agroforestry Planning and Design

The steps provided in the Handbook for Agroforestry Planning and Design will allow you to identify what agroforestry products can grow on your land, which of these products you can sell profitably, and how to develop basic business and marketing strategies. 

Training Manual for Applied Agroforestry Practices

The Training Manual for Applied Agroforestry Practices helps to explain agroforestry practices and their applications. It is designed for natural resources professionals and landowners, and includes worksheets and exercises for use as an educational tool. Additionally, the manual is designed to assist in the decision process so that, when established or managed, the agroforestry practice is most effective at achieving the desired objectives.

Soil Health

Healthy soil is essential for maintaining efficient growth, fertility, and water quality in crop production. SARE has supported advances by producers, researchers, and educators as they examine the on-farm benefits of using cover crops, crop rotation, manure amendments, composting, and more.

Women Caring for the Land: Cover Crops Booklet

Women landowners say that they want their family farms to remain healthy and productive for future generations. But many feel they don't have all the information they need to protect their land. This booklet introduces cover crops as an option, one of the simplest techniques to try with the most visible benefits. 

Women Caring for the Land: Improving Conservation Outreach to Female Non-Operator Farmland Owners Curriculum Manual

With the help of an NCR-SARE Research and Education Grant and funding from other sources, WFAN developed an award winning curriculum called Women Caring for the LandSM (WCL), which is designed to serve female non-operator landowners who are interested in learning more about conservation and other land management topics. The materials are also appropriate to teach youth about sustainable agriculture through hands-on conservation activity lesson plans.

SARE Cover Crops Webinars

As part of the Missouri SARE State Program, Debi Kelly hosted two webinars on Cover Crops in fall 2012. Presenters included Charles Ellis, a Natural Resource Engineer with the Lincoln County University of Missouri Extension Center, and Rich Hoormann, an Agronomy Specialist with Montgomery County University of Missouri Extension Center. 

Dakota Farmer's Success Catches On

Dan Forgey has always had an abiding respect for the land that he has farmed for more than 40 years, which is why, as manager of the 8,500-acre Cronin Farms in Gettysburg, S.D., he strives to build soil health—and yields—sustainably. First, he shifted the farm to 100 percent no-till in 1993, around the time that […]