Soil Health Practices
The Kansas Soil Health Alliance believes the most effective way to improve soil health is for growers to implement a systems-based approach – adopting a suite of practices that look at the entire soil ecosystem.
The soil ecosystem includes plants, animals, soil organisms, inorganic mineral material in soil, air, water, and a multitude of chemical compounds. This ecosystem is the primary driver of all ecological processes, among which are the nutrient, energy, carbon, and the water cycle. All of these different components that reside in soil help improve soil function by: cycling nutrients, building and creating aggregates for air and gas exchange, housing for microorganisms, improved water infiltration and storage, along with storage of atmospheric carbon.
Each soil has its own inherent capabilities and by managing the soil to optimize its functions, the health of the soil will increase. Healthy soil is the foundation for profitable, productive, and environmentally sound agricultural systems. By understanding how the soil processes that support plant growth and regulate environmental quality are affected by management practices, it is possible to design a crop and soil management system that improves and maintains soil health over time (PennState Extension).
Land is not merely soil, it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals.