Soil Health Resources
Did you know that there are four main principles of soil health?
- Keep the soil covered as much as possible
- Disturb the soil as little as possible
- Keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil
- Diversify as much as possible using crop rotation and cover crops
Learn more from the resources below about why following soil health principles results in a healthier more productive soil.
Free Books! (PDF)
Articles on Oklahoma's Soil Health (links)
Stories on Oklahoma's Soil Health
Why Soil Health
In traditional farming, tillage is used to break up the ground in order to kill weeds and facilitate easier planting. We now know the enormous amount of disturbance inflicted upon the soil by tilling destroys the delicate food web essential to long term soil productivity. With root and worm channels destroyed, the soil’s ability to take in water is significantly reduced, and water flows over the top carrying topsoil into rivers and lakes, instead of absorbing into the soil. The remaining exposed soil is easily blown away in the wind or washed away by rains, potentially causing damaging dust storms and erosion. Heavy tillage is what led to the devastating Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
One alternative is no-till farming, which uses a drill to plant seeds without the need to break up the soil. No-till alone can have a noticeable impact on the quality of crops, the cost of growing those crops, and conservation of soil for growing future crops. When combined with cover crops (crops grown for soil nourishment between cash crops) and crop rotation (growing different types of crops on a field from one year to the next), no-till can turn an average field into a powerhouse at the center of productive agriculture and healthy environments.