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Soil Health

What is soil health and why are we concerned?


Soil is a living, vital ecosystem.  It is a precious resource that supports life - plant, animal, human. Soil health is about how well the soil is doing to sustain those lives. 


Soil plays an important role for our water quality and food production, and we can all work to keep it healthy.

There are a number of conservation practices we can utilize that will play an important role in protecting this natural resource, whether we are talking about the flower bed in your front yard, or hundreds of acres of cropland you farm.


Conservation practices work to preserve the integrity of the soil and to improve the soil to provide resiliency.


Conservation practices are based on four principles:

Minimize disturbance

​Do Not Disturb! Disturbing your soil can be through physical, chemical, or biological means. ​

Maximizing soil cover

Keep It Covered! There are two primary methods used: cover crops and mulching.​

Maximizing living roots

Living plants go beyond cover. This focuses on reducing the time farmland or garden beds are bare by using diversified crop rotations, cover crops, and perennial plants.​

Maximizing biodiversity

Keep It Diverse!  Using and rotating diverse crops, and using cover crops helps to feed different types of soil microbes.​

Managing soil health increases crop productivity and profitability. Agricultural conservation practices include no-till/reduced till, cover crops, rotational grazing, and diversified crop rotation. These can be utilized on large- or small-scale farms. Read more on our Agriculture or Urban Agriculture pages.

Backyard conservation practices include composting and mulching. Read more on our Backyard Conservation page.

We offer free technical assistance! Contact us to see what practices would work for your property!

This bit of information is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to soils and soil health!  There is a wealth of information out there.  Here are a couple of great resources:

Soil | Natural Resources Conservation Service (

Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative

Soil Health Page (

Healthy Soils & Water | Indiana Clear Choices Clean Water

NRCS Unlock the Secrets in the Soil video series

2021 Webinar - Applying Nature's Soil Health Principles for Improving Soil Function with Soil Scientist, Ray Archuleta

We have also compiled a list of other valuable resources, including information on labs for soil testing and the Web Soil Survey.

Soil Resources

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