Unearthing the Secrets of the Soil

A new, free service being offered by the Pipestone Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has been designed to help producers better understand the health of their land’s soil.
SWCDs in Minnesota, Pipestone included, provide technical assistance, funding and educational services to help private landowners make informed decisions about managing their lands in ways that help soil and water resources. Helping producers optimize soil health fits right in with that mission, said Laura DeBeer, SWCD water quality specialist.
“This is a service that relates to many of the things we’re already doing in soil and water,” DeBeer said.
Soil health is defined by the USDA/Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as the “continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans.” More and more, DeBeer said, they’re learning how the health and function of soil depends upon increased organic matter, improved microbial activity, better carbon sequestration and increased water infiltration.
How to get what they know about soil health out to Pipestone County producers is what prompted the SWCD to come up with the Soil Health Assessment, DeBeer said.
“One of the best ways to do it is on the ground –– conversations with producers one-on-one, understanding their operations are all completely different,” DeBeer said. “Their goals, anticipated needs -- every producer has a different background, different story; every piece of land has a different background, different story.”

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