U.S. farmers can expect a new emphasis on soil health by the USDA's NRCS, formerly called the 'Soil Erosion Service.'
This service was created during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, a time of great tribulation for the U.S. The unprecedented degradation of soil in those days led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to write in a letter to all the state governors that, 'A Nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.'
New farming techniques had to be designed and implemented to halt the tremendous loss of productive farmland. Fast forward to today and we recognize that by working together, NRCS, Cooperative Extension, conservation districts, farmers and the ag industry have made great progress to reduce that unacceptable soil loss of the 1930s.
But now new challenges loom with a rising and more wealthy world population needing an expected 70% increase in food production in a few decades. Climate vagaries add to the uncertainty of meeting that goal, and we see the effects resulting in high food and feed prices right now.
This means pressure on soil is increasing — more production needs to come from the same land, there will be less opportunity for land to 'rest' and marginal lands will be taken into production.
NRCS Chief Dave White identified the need for his agency to focus on Soil Health Management Systems to help farmers and ranchers feed the world more profitably and sustainably, now and for generations to come.