Soil Management

The educational materials listed on this page are about Soil Management.

Soil management encompasses a number of strategies used by farmers and ranchers to protect soil resources, one of their most valuable assets. By practicing soil conservation, including appropriate soil preparation methods, they reduce soil erosion and increase soil stabilization. These soil conservation methods allow for healthy soil formation, soil fertility and favorable soil composition, including soil permeability and soil porosity, which lead to increased soil health. Soil organic matter is a critical component of soil health. Cover crops can help maintain or increase soil organic matter. By using a variety of soil management practices, soil organic matter will increase while soil erosion will decrease, keeping soil nutrients on the farm. Farmers typically use a soil analysis, or soil sampling procedure, to determine what inputs are needed. Key practices include compostingsoil chemistrynutrient mineralizationsoil quality/healthorganic mattercover cropsgreen manuressoil analysissoil microbiologysoil physics.

What is Soil Health, to begin exploring the relationship between on-farm practices, soil health and complex web of life in the soil. Building Soils for Better Crops helps farmers determine the best soil management strategies to employ on their farm. Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual may be useful for farmers who want to use crop rotations to improve soil fertility and soil composition. Diversifying Cropping Systems identifies practices that enhance diversity on farms, making soils and crops less susceptible to pests, diseases and weeds. Producers can gain knowledge about the importance of soil and crop management strategies by visiting the Cover Crop Topic Room.

Dairy Farm Closes Loop with Improved Compost System

Eric Paris of Tamarlane Farm, a dairy in northeastern Vermont, has been closing the loop on his farm by composting farm waste and community food scraps (about 12 tons per week) to create a valuable fertility source for his farm fields. His Farmer Grant project sought to determine whether a low-cost Aerated Static Pile (ASP) […]

Small-scale Vegetable Operation Explores Solutions to Farming on Marginal Soils

How do small-scale farmers in rural and urban locations farm successfully on marginal soils? Jennifer Wilhelm of Fat Peach Farm in Madbury, NH conducted a Farmer Grant project to find out. Wilhelm had established no-till permanent raised beds on her one-acre mixed vegetable operation and her project investigated weed suppression, soil health and production potential […]

Adapt-N Training Manual

Adapt-N is an online tool that helps precisely manage nitrogen (N) inputs for grain, silage, and sweet corn production. It can provide automatic daily updates of each field’s N status and recommendations, based on real-time weather influences, and can be used with any device with internet access.

Beyond Black Plastic

This publication explores sustainable, organic mulches such as cover crops and no-till and reduced tillage systems as alternatives to black plastic mulch for weed control. The booklet includes a discussion of the impact of organic mulches on soil quality and fertility, weed control, yields and waste production, and profitability for small to mid-size vegetable operations. 

Tackling the Thorny Issues, Linking Practitioners

As the ranks of organic farmers swell in America, so does the need for answers to tough problems in organic agriculture. For example, how can weeds be controlled without soil-eroding tillage? How can risk be minimized? How can farmers learn from one another? Thanks to researcher/educators like Anu Rangarajan of Cornell University, new and transitioning […]

Simple P Test Yields Millions in Savings

John Maxwell, a Geneseo, N.Y., dairy farmer, used to apply more than 60 pounds of phosphorus per acre when planting his 250 acres of corn. But after participating in a SARE-funded, statewide research project aimed at helping growers fine-tune their use of starter phosphorus fertilizers, he has reduced that to about 20 pounds per acre, […]

Buckwheat Cover Crop Handbook

Buckwheat has been used to suppress weeds on Northeastern farms for 400 years. This handbook outlines how to use buckwheat as an economical weed-control tool, with recommendations based on extensive grower surveys, original research and on-farm trials.

NOFA Handbooks

A series of eight handbooks for new farmers or established producers seeking to transition to organic or improve their current practices. Print only; order from Chelsea Green.