The South Dakota Soil Health Challenge will increase awareness of soil health by providing no cost soil health analysis for sample submitters that include land owners, crop producers and agronomists. The project will provide soil health results, interpretation of results and recommendations for best management practices that project participants can use for sustainable soil health improvement. Participant samples will be compared to a growing soil health database and shown how management groups such as no-till and tillage influence soil health. Summary reports will provide participants with the ability to see the relationship between soil management and health. This project has been submitted as a pre-proposal to Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension (SARE.)
South Dakota producers, land owners, and agronomists that participate in the “The South Dakota Soil Health Challenge” will learn the soil health of their soil as well as what best management practices should be used for improvement. Project participants will become more aware of soil health and how important it is to sustainable soil productivity. The link between soil health and sustainable soil productivity will affect attitudes of land owners, producers and agronomists and will cause them to make better decisions in their soil management. Current extension educational programming includes informational soil health meetings where soil health knowledge and skills for improved soil health are presented. This project strives to connect the relevance of current soil health educational meetings with the measured soil health of the participant’s samples, causing them to make decisions for management that improves soil health and sustainable productivity on the land they own, operate or manage. The project participant’s comparison of individual sample results to those in similar and dissimilar management groups will show the participant how their soil management decisions have influenced their own soil health results. Creating the link between soil health knowledge and how to effect positive changes in soil health will lead to the following outcomes.
- Short-term Action Outcomes: Producers, land owners, and agronomists will increase their awareness, knowledge, and shift attitude toward adoption of best management practices for improved soil health.
- Intermediate Action Outcomes: Producers, land owners and agronomist will increase adoption of best management practices that increase the retention of crop residues after harvest, instead of removal from baling and the adoption of less tillage.
- Long-term System Change Outcomes: Producers, land owners and agronomist will increase no-till adoption and use more diverse crop rotations that include cover crops.