Soil Health

Regenerative Organic Farming - Soil Health Austrian Winter Peas - Basaltic Farms
Regenerative Organic Farming What Is Soil Health Red Crimson Clovers Basaltic Farms
Regenerative Organic Farming Soil Health Austrian Winter Peas Basaltic Farms 1

Soil Health: The What, Why, & How

Soil health is an integral part of our farming practices and dictates what cover crops we plant, what amendments we add, and what kind of compost we make. To better understand soil health, we will explore what it is, why it’s essential, and how to improve it.

What Is Soil Health?

When we look at our soil, we see a vital living ecosystem that sustains our crops, insects, and animals. When this ecosystem has a proper balance of soil organic matter and physical, biological, and chemical attributes, it is deemed “healthy”. Examples of these factors are: Soil organic matter: nutrient retention – soil structure – soil erosion. Physical: water holding capacity – compaction – density Biological: earthworms – soil respiration – microbial biomass Chemical: reactive carbon – electrical conductivity – soil nitrate levels. We monitor our soil by using detailed soil reports that pinpoint what is currently happening. We order reports every two months.

How Do You Improve Soil Health?

Depending on your soil type, soil properties can be improved in a number of ways. Cover crops can add organic matter, reducing tillage can minimize compaction, and bacteria can lower salinity. Fear not if you have less than desirable sandy, clay-filled, or pesticide-saturated soil; with time and regenerative organic farming practices, you too can have healthy, productive soil! If you’re serious you must obtain a soil report. Laboratories are beginning to add more detailed reports such as water retention and microbiological activity

How You Start

You need to do some serious homework!

We are providing some links to excellent sources to get you started.

Soil Health Literature – A list of peer-reviewed papers compiled by the USDA and NRCS. The sidebar contains links to much more information and resources.

Soil Health Indicators In The Field– How to see, smell, and feel soil health indicators out in the field!

Ward Labs Soil Health Analysis This is the lab we use for analyzing our soil. One of the services they offer is a consultation after you receive your reports. We’ve found the comprehensive, reasonably priced Haney test is perfect for determining what state your soil is in. While not as complete, the Routine Soil Analysis will also greatly add value to the regenerative organic farmer or gardener.

National Healthy Soils Policy Network Each local network provides resources, information, and solutions specific to their area. It’s a great way to learn more about your area’s local soil issues!