About Soil Health

The Washington State Soil Health Committee believes in advocating for soil health and conservation in Washington State. The way we do this by educating landowners and citizens about current best practices in preventing soil erosion and enhancing soil health on arable lands. The committee also works with landowners, funding entities, and state, local, and federal government agencies to promote sustainable soil conservation practices that will enhance soil health in Washington State. To that end, the committee will solicit grant proposals for soil health projects, fund them, and share the results across the state.

As a committee, we look to partner with organizations like the NRCS on ways to improve soil health in Washington State. Here is a flyer from the NRCS on “Unlock the Basics of Soil Health – NRCS

From the NRCS flyer:

Unlock the Basics.
Healthy, fully functioning soil provides an environment that sustains and nourishes plants, soil microbes and beneficial insects. Managing for soil health is one of the easiest and most effective ways for farmers to increase crop productivity and profitability while improving the environment. Positive results are often realized immediately and last well into the future.

Soil Health Management.
Implementing soil health management systems can lead to increased organic matter and soil organisms, reduced soil compaction, and improved nutrient storage and cycling. As an added bonus, fully functioning, healthy soils absorb and retain more water, making them less susceptible to runoff and erosion. This means more water will be available for crops when they need it. Soil Health Management Systems allow farmers to enjoy profits because they spend less on fuel and energy and they produce higher crop yields from improved soil conditions.

Do not Disturb.
The soil’s natural biological cycles and structure can be disrupted through tillage, improper chemical disturbance, or excessive livestock grazing. By managing, reducing, or eliminating these activities, farmers will benefit from better plant growth, reduced soil erosion, increased profit margins, and better wildlife habitat.

Dig a Little, Learn a Lot.
Soil is a living system. It should look, smell, and feel alive. Dig in to discover what your soil can tell you about its health and production potential. Healthy soil looks dark, crumbly, and porous and is home to worms and other organisms that squirm, creep, hop, or crawl. Healthy soil smells sweet and earthy. It feels soft, moist, and friable and allows plant roots to grow unimpeded.

Discover the Cover.
Biodiversity-growing more plants in rotation-increases the success of most agricultural systems. Diversity above ground improves diversity below ground. Using cover crops and increasing crop rotation diversity help restore soil health, protect against erosion and groundwater leaching, and provide livestock feed and wildlife habitat.