Soil Health Program Back »

This article was written collaboratively by Ruth Beck and Anthony Bly.

Trends indicate that the increasing population of the world will need to be matched by a major increase in food production. However it is and will continue to be very important that as the USA works to find ways to increase food production that it is done without negatively affecting the environment, including depleting the soil resource and reducing water quality.

The goal of the "2013-14 Soil Health Workshops and Field Tours" is to provide thought provoking educational information to South Dakota landowners and crop and livestock producers that will challenge and encourage them to start and /or continue to incorporate crop and livestock systems that are both environmentally sound and profitable. It is also important to educate other segments of the public including those that work in the agriculture industry.

This program is focused on providing tools through education and examples that will encourage producers to explore and try new production techniques that will fall into these parameters.

The target audience is producers, landowners, Ag Industry professionals, NRCS, and other government employees in agriculture related fields.

Four soil health events will be held during the 2013-14 winter at different locations throughout South Dakota. The programs will consist of speakers from SDSU, the USDA-ARS station in Brookings, SD, the NRCS, Minnesota Extension Service and individual farmers from across South Dakota. Speakers will present information on research results and practical experiences that can promote soil health. One of the events will be taped and available to view on-line in the near future.

There will also be a summer soil health event planned that will look at soil health activities in fields in August or September of 2014. This event will provide an opportunity to visit farms where producers are incorporating production practices that are improving the health of their soil. Planned stops will include private landowners, SDSU and USDA-ARS Research locations.


  • Short Term: Increase recognition that soil is a valuable resource and needs to be treated and handled with care to avoid severe degradation. Increase awareness that degradation of the soil will limit our ability to produce food.
  • Medium Term: Landowners, as well as crop and livestock producers place a high value on soil quality and incorporate management practices which can maintain and improve soil quality in the long term. Ag industry and government professionals have tools and information to help producers incorporate management practices which favor soil health.
  • Long term: South Dakota residents benefit from better water and soil quality, and a better environment overall. Ag producers become resilient to weather extremes and continue to be competitive producers because they have utilized production practices that maintain and improve soil quality. South Dakota’s Ag economy remains strong in the future.

The NRCS and The South Dakota No-Till Association are partners with SDSU Extension in this program. They have provided matching dollars to accomplish these goals. SDSU Extension is providing expertise, labor, facilities, equipment and promotional assistance with all of the events.

Key Contacts:

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