Soil is a foundational resource to farming, conservation and health in the 21st century. Virginia farmers have made significant progress in protecting and conserving Virginia’s natural resources, however, broader participation in soil and water conservation programs and on-the ground implementation of summer and winter cover cropping systems and sustainable soil management is still needed moving forward.
Key concepts of ecological soil management include:
- protecting soil habitat;
- managing more by disturbing less;
- keeping soil covered, diversifying food and carbon sources for soil microorganisms;
- diversifying plant and animal diversity; and
- growing living roots throughout the year (Archuleta, 2012).
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, and Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education are partnering with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and other organizations and agencies (e.g., Chesapeake Bay Foundation, American Farmland Trust, Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Society, Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and others) as part of a Virginia Soil Health Coalition to promote and educate farmers, growers, landowners and the general public on these foundational principles of soil management in an overarching effort to unlock the secrets in the soil.
For more information about soil health and the Virginia Soil Health Coalition, contact your nearest USDA Service Center or local Virginia Cooperative Extension office.
Let’s not keep the importance of soil health a secret!