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Farmers & ranchers celebrate National Soil Health Day

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Today, we celebrate National Soil Health Day and the vitality and productivity of our soils. Farmers and ranchers have been implementing various soil health practices — think cover crops, no-till, rotational grazing and so much more — on their farms for many years. However, as the soil health movement began to grow, so did the available resources and incentives for producers. This year there are many ways agriculture producers can celebrate today, June 23, as National Soil Health Day. 

Producers who implement soil health practices, work with the land — not against it — to reduce erosion, maximize water infiltration, improve nutrient cycling, and save money on inputs, which ultimately improves the resiliency of their land.  

How to celebrate National Soil Health Day 

Whether you are a farmer, a rancher, gardener, or just interested in soil health, there are many ways to participate in National Soil Health Day. One way participate is to check out free resources available to the public to increase your knowledge about the importance of soil health. 

Living Soil captures the background of the current soil health movement and its momentum, beginning with painful images of the Dust Bowl, and then transitions to personal experiences of innovative women and men who are managing their land to enhance soil health. The film features rural and urban farmers from Maryland to California, selling everything from corn to bouquets, united by their care for the soil.

Other informative videos include: 

How to implement soil health practices

Whether you grow corn in Mississippi, raise beef cattle in Wyoming, or something in between, there are many ways to build the health of your soils and strengthen your operation. According to farmers.gov, there are four principles of soil health and usable best practices.

1. Minimize Disturbance — From hooves to plows, soil is disturbed in many ways. While some disturbance is unavoidable, minimizing disturbance events across your operation builds healthier soils. To minimize disturbance of your soil, you can:

  • Limit tillage
  • Optimize chemical input
  • Rotate livestock

2. Maximize Soil Cover — As a general rule, soil should be covered whenever possible. You can plant cover crops as part of both grazing and cropland operations. To maximize soil cover year round, you can:

  • Plant cover crops
  • Use organic mulch
  • Leave plant residue

3. Maximize Biodiversity — Increasing diversity across your operation can break disease cycles, stimulate plant growth, and provide habitat for pollinators and organisms living in your soil. Maximize biodiversity by:

  • Plant diverse cover crops
  • Use diverse crop rotations
  • Integrate livestock

4. Maximize Presence of Living Roots — Living roots reduce soil erosion and provide food for organisms like earthworms and microbes that cycle the nutrients you plants need. You can maximize living roots by: 

  • Reduce fallow
  • Plant cover crops
  • Use diverse crop rotations

Check out more ways to increase soil health practices for working land here

No matter how you decide to celebrate National Soil Health Day, just remember that farmers and ranchers are implementing these practices on their operations everyday. They are the original stewards of the land who want to preserve the natural resources for generations to come. 

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