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.

Soil Management Course Brings Healthier Soil to Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Healthy soil plays an important role in the economic and environmental sustainability of farms. While awareness for the benefits of healthy soil has increased in recent years, a lack of technical and financial information on some beneficial soil management practices has limited adoption in Tennessee. To solve this, Jason de Koff at […]

How Soils Behave When We Grow Cover Crops

BELLE GLADE, Florida – Florida vegetable farmers who grow cover crops as a green manure between their cash crops anecdotally tout the health benefits, but a two-year study by University of Florida has provided the research to back it up. In a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, University of Florida […]

Cover Crops Improve Soil Quality in Plaintain Production Systems

GURABO, Puerto Rico — In humid, tropical environments where soil organic matter decomposes at a rapid rate, efforts are being made to maintain and improve soil health using cover crops, specifically in high intensive cropping systems like plantain production. In a Producer Grant project, farmer Duamed Colon-Carrion studied the potential benefits of cover crops on […]

University of Florida Researchers Expanding the Cover Crop Toolbox for Farmers

HAWTHORNE, Florida – Several new cover crop varieties that have the potential to overcome the limitations of their commercial counterparts are being targeted for use in Florida to provide farmers with a more diverse selection of plants that excel in soil health, weed suppression and pest management. A small group of farmers, Extension agents and […]

Georgia Farmer Exploring the Use of Compost Tea to Control Southern Stem Blight

DECATUR, Georgia – When summer temperatures rise and moisture increases in the Southeast, so does Southern stem blight – a hard-to-control fungal disease that can quickly turn your healthy, productive tomatoes, squash or peppers into wilting, decaying plants. Southern stem blight is a nightmare for small-scale vegetable producers, especially those who follow organic practices and […]

It Doesn’t Take Long for Soils to Reap the Benefits of Cover Crops

HORSE SHOE, North Carolina – Whitaker Farms, a family vegetable operation nestled on the edge of the Pisgah National Forest, has been managed conventionally for generations. But last year, owner Phillip Whitaker decided to take part in a study to test the benefits of no-till and cover crops on soil health. Despite the short period […]

Sun-Baked Virginia Farm Blooms Under a Berm and Swale Permaculture System

KENBRIDGE, Virginia — It’s 90 degrees, but feels like 105 on the empty white road cutting across Virginia’s flat, coastal plains. There hasn’t been rain in a month and the fields of corn clicking past are curled to grey spikes. The soil between the rows looks like powdered rust. But it’s here, hidden behind pine […]

Cover Crops and Soil Biology: What Do We Know?

Investigating soil biology is a wild, unpredictable zoological ride. From the smallest organisms on Earth (viruses) to earthworms, cover crop selection and management is affected by and influences soil biology in ways we cannot completely predict.

Cover Crop Establishment and Residue Management

Benefits associated with cover crops that may include erosion control, increased organic matter, increased water infiltration, and weed suppression are all typically enhanced as biomass levels increase. In order to ensure adequate levels of biomass, growers should recognize the importance of cover crop establishment.

Evaluating Nutrient, Soil Health, and Economic Benefits of Compost Additions to Summer Cover Crops for Strawberries in North Carolina

Over the past 8 years, a team of multidisciplinary faculty and students at NC State University have conducted various field-based studies at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and on-farm research examining the impact of summer cover crops, compost additions and applications of beneficial arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and vermicompost on soil health, nutrient availability, and yields in conventional and organic strawberry production systems.

Equipment Demonstration and Conservation Systems Overview

Conservation tillage combined with high residue cover crops (Conservation Systems) can maximize residue production and minimize residue decomposition to promote the increase in organic matter across degraded soils of the Southeast, despite climatic conditions.

Grazing Cover Crops in Cropland

For some producers with extensive experience using cover crops, grazing can be a ‘next step’ in obtaining additional economic value while achieving environmental stewardship.

NRCS Campaign Overview: Unlocks Secrets in the Soil

Since the official launch of the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil Campaign” in October of 2012, the soil health movement has continued to grow, with cover crop and soil health management system adoption rates climbing and stakeholder interest increasing throughout the nation.

Soil Management Using Cover Crops in Organically Managed High Tunnels

In southern climates, high tunnels are typically used for season extension in the spring, fall, and winter. In the hot summer months, if no shade cloth is used to cover high tunnels, it can be difficult to grow anything but the most heat tolerant crops, and it can be uncomfortable to work in tunnels due to the heat. This is an excellent time to incorporate a cover crop, between the late spring and early fall crops. Many cover crops species are adapted to hot southern summers and perform well in high tunnels.

Sustainable Blackberries and Raspberries

A handbook to guide growers in sustainable practices of fruit production from production practices to business management to marketing, for high tunnel and field production.

Black Soldier Fly Integral Component of Sustainable Ag at Georgia Farm

BLUFFTON, Georgia – The black soldier fly has turned out to be a key contributor to the sustainable agriculture efforts of one South Georgia farm. For the past two years, the indigenous insect has been at the center of a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) Producer study at White Oak Pastures to determine […]