A Deeper Dig: Soil Health

A Deeper Dig: Soil Health

Climate change threatens the health of our planet and jeopardizes our ability to grow food. At Wolfe’s Neck Center, we are committed to creating solutions to these problems to build a healthier planet for our future generations. A Deeper Dig aims to highlight terminology, practices, and ideas, both in our backyard and globally, through monthly topics.


What is healthy soil and why is it a powerful tool in the fight against climate change?

At Wolfe’s Neck Center, we believe that healthy soil is critical to cooling the planet and that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a key part of the solution to this global problem. Healthy soil not only draws down carbon from the air, but it also helps us adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Soil degradation through agriculture continues to threaten the climate and the environment worldwide, but when soils are healthy, they can store carbon, withstand erosion, improve water quality, and support healthy plants and animals. Soil is a living ecosystem that supports a variety of organisms that need the basic necessities of life, water, food, and shelter, to survive. The hidden gems in healthy soil, such as bacteria and fungi, insects, and organic matter thrive when the other soil elements are in balance.

Soil health management helps farmers, gardeners, and landowners work with their soil to minimize erosion, maximize water infiltration, improve nutrient cycling, and enhance the resiliency of their land.

Here are a few of the many ways that farmers can create healthy soil:

Planting perennials that live for many years in one spot allows their well-developed root systems to draw down carbon and deliver it deep into the soil, and prevent erosion.

Tilling involves breaking up soil to plant seeds or control weeds. Less tilling, or none at all, reduces erosion. It also helps soil build up organic matter and retain water.

Grazing animals, if managed properly, can bring pastures back to life, increasing biodiversity below and above ground. Restored pasture draws down carbon, too.

Farmers can grow cover crops instead of letting land lie fallow between cash-crop seasons. These cover crops increase soil organic matter, produce natural fertilizer, sequester carbon, and reduce erosion.

For a fantastic interactive infographic on how you can improve your soil’s health, please visit: https://www.sare.org/resources/what-is-soil-health/

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