Soil health is the foundational element for great agriculture and efficient water use. A healthy soil has a host of organic matter and microbes which increase infiltration and provide nutrients to growing plants. Healthy soils are well-structured with networks of pores, and cover crops are utilized to make sure it doesn’t run away when it rains.
The National Resources Conservation Service is at the forefront of advocating for soil health behind a basis of scientific evidence and experimentation. The Soil Health Literature Summary of 2015 is the authoritative document on soil science and methodology for promoting healthy soil. However, it can be a bit overwhelming as a first read. You can take this soil health quiz from the NRCS to see where you stand in your knowledge, or start to dive right in.
This article on the Five Principles of Soil Health link numerous facets of agriculture and important practices into tangible outcomes. A story from Dave Dearstyne, Soil Health Technical Advisory of the Shavano Conservation District puts these principles into practice in his own backyard, advocating for their use regardless of scale.
The Soil Health Lesson in a Minute Series is a quick introduction to many soil health topics. Here is one example:
The Experts Talk Newsletter Series delves deeper into nuances within soil health topics, such as why your best soil is likely found along your fence.
The NRCS provides email updates on soil health through a subscription service. To subscribe, visit this webpage.
The Soil Biology Primer relates soil biology and soil health throughout. It, along with numerous other soil health related publications, is available for purchase through the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s shop at a reasonable price.
Additional technical documentation can be found here, including the free webinar “The Science Behind Healthy Soil”. Phone and mobile phone numbers are post here for the NRCS Soil Health Division near the bottom of the page, with the Western Regional contacts at the bottom of the table. They can be contacted for additional information and with questions.
A number of these resources are pulled from the Western Colorado Soil Health website. More information can be found there.