Soil health, also referred to as soil quality, is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. We are here to help farmers access tools to help them manage their soils for future generations.
By farming using soil health principles and systems (including no-till, cover cropping and diverse rotations) farmers actually increase their soil’s organic matter and improve their soils microbial activity. As a result, farmers are sequestering more carbon, increasing water infiltration, improving wildlife and pollinator habitat—all while harvesting better profits and often times better yields.
The Regional Small Farms Program strives to bring quality curriculum and education to our area farmers to aid in the conservation of their most valuable resource: Soil. For more information or to request a specific class be brought to your area, contact your local extension agent.
Soil Survey Tool:
Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey. It is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and provides access to the largest natural resource information system in the world.
How to use:
- Go to USDA Web Soil Survey.
- Hit green button, type in your address of your farm on the left. The map will show an aerial view.
- Using the red AOI (area of interest) buttons, draw out the boundaries of your farm. Double click once you are at your last point. Your area of interest should be mapped out.
- Navigate to top tabs and go to soil map. The map unit legend on the left will tell you your soil type(s). If you click on the hyperlinked soil types, a chart will pop up and tell you more about your soils.
Check with your local Conservation District office for soil sampling services. In addition, there is a list of labs that accept soil samples below.
WSU does not endorse laboratories listed. Provided resources are ones that farmers in our area have utilized successfully and are available to the public.
Methods to Build up Your Soils Organic Matter:
A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, increase biodiversity and bring a host of other benefits to your farm.
WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources hosts an extensive publications library including cover cropping topics open to the public.