The Crush June 2023 - 1

theCrush
Volume 49 | Issue 6 | June 2023
FEATURE STORY
SOIL HEALTH ASSESSMENT TOOLS & RESOURCES
ENHANCE BIODIVERSITY, CARBON FARMING, AND CROP/CLIMATE BENEFITS
Article by Ted Rieger
Soil health is a term and concept that is increasingly
important in agricultural land management due to its
implications for the productive and sustainable growth
of crops, including vineyards, and for implementing
climate-smart practices and carbon farm plans. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) is engaged in a major
initiative to help ag producers develop and implement
conservation plans with a focus on soil health and
climate-smart practices. USDA recently announced plans
to hire new NRCS soil conservationists nationwide, with
funding from the National Inflation Reduction Act passed
in 2022, who will be trained to assist ag producers with
conservation planning and services.
Defining Soil Health
Soil health can be defined differently
depending on an individual farm's region
and site conditions, the producer's
management goals, resource concerns, and
crop yield and quality goals. Soil health
refers to a range of biological, chemical,
and physical components of soil focusing on
those properties that are dynamic (able to
be altered over time through management),
rather than inherent properties (such as
texture, mineral content, and composition
that remain relatively constant and are not
easily changed by management). Dynamic
properties include soil organic matter, bulk
density, water infiltration, and biological
diversity. A simple definition of soil health
from NRCS is " the continued capacity
of the soil to function as a vital living
ecosystem that sustains plants,
animals, and humans. "
Soil Health Resources, Education
The North Coast Soil Hub is composed of Resource
Conservation Districts (RCDs) and staff, soil and ag
professionals, and ag landowners in the North Coast
Counties of Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino,
and Humboldt. The Soil Hub established four
demonstration vineyard sites to implement and evaluate
practices to enhance and maintain soil health. The Hub
received grant funding in 2022 for a USDA Sustainable
Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) project to
conduct workshops for professionals who share the
mission of supporting the role of agriculture as a natural
climate solution through enhancing soil health. The
workshops focus on topics identified as the greatest
needs for education to advance carbon farm programs
and serve producers: interpreting soil tests, compost,
NRCS soil health specialist Josh Beniston demonstrates in-field soil
health assessments. Photo: Ted Rieger
https://soilhub.org

The Crush June 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush June 2023

The Crush June 2023 - 1
The Crush June 2023 - 2
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