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 composting, soil chemistry, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health, organic matter, cover crops, green manures, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil physics.
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New Edition of “Building Soils for Better Crops” Now Available
The fourth edition of SARE’s most popular book, Building Soils for Better Crops: Ecological Management for Healthy Soils, is now available online and in print. The book covers everything from soil organic matter and nutrient cycles to ecological soil management including sections on cover crops, compost, reduced tillage, addressing fertility issues and more. Building Soils […]
Farming with Soil Life
This handbook, created by The Xerces Society, dives into soil biology. It provides a connection between healthy soils and healthy invertebrates found in temperate agricultural soils. The publication starts with a review of soil basics, including the functions, classifications and properties (physical, biological and chemical) of soil. It provides detailed methods on how observe soil […]
Cover Crops for Soil Health WorkshopAll session recordings and slide presentations from this three-day professional development workshop are available online. Hosted by Northeast SARE and Delaware State University in March 2016, this event addressed the latest research on the benefits and successful management of cover crops in grain, vegetable and animal production systems.
Cornell Soil Health AssessmentThe Cornell soil health assessment was created to help farmers develop appropriate management solutions to build healthy soils. Focusing on soil health helps improve productivity, reduces the need for external inputs, and increases a farm's resilience to extreme weather events.
New York Cover Crops Decision Tool
This is an online tool to help you quickly narrow the choices of cover crop for your situation. In a few seconds, you will have growing instructions for the cover crop that will do the job you need. Access the Cover Crops Decision Tool now. It is designed for the soil, climate, cropping practices and […]
High Tunnel Winter Cropping Systems
A 40-minute presentation by Lewis Jett, West Virginia Extension Service, on the use of high tunnels for winter crop production. Download separate audio and slideshow files:Download audio (MP3, 15MB) Download slideshow (PDF, 10MB)
Crediting Cover Crops and Soil Organic Matter in a Variable Rate Nitrogen Fertilizer Prescription
Crop growth depends on available nitrogen (N) in the soil, much of which comes from mineralization of soil organic matter and other organic residues, such as cover crops. The amount of mineralized N available to a crop depends on several biological and environmental factors such as temperature, moisture, soil texture, the total quantity of organic […]
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 […]
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.
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.
Oilseed Production in the Northeast
A 48-page booklet on sunflower and canola production in the Northeast.
Marketing On-Farm Compost
This resource includes best practices for quality compost, and information on compost markets.
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, […]
Whole-Farm Nutrient Planning for Organic Farms
A 16-page booklet that helps organic farmers understand their soil test results and use these results wisely and compliantly, within the USDA National Organic Program standards.
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.
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.