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While the benefits of soil health might seem intangible to some, NRCS soil scientist Barry Fisher is very clear about it.
“When we talk about soil health, we’re talking about improving the capacity of that soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans, no matter the weather conditions or circumstances,” he says. “It’s all about understanding that living ecosystem and working with the land instead of against it.”
For soil to be considered functional, Fisher says it needs to:
With nearly four decades of working with producers in no-till and conventional systems under his belt, Fisher says improved soil health affects nutrient cycling and that a no-till system tends to be more biologically driven, the effects of which are most noticeable in the spring.
“Especially if you’re transitioning away from full-width tillage or adding cover crops into your rotation, you need to understand that some of the rules you played by before won’t apply in this new system,” he explained at the 2019 National No-Tillage Conference. “There are some key concepts regarding nutrient management and cover crop termination that are not real intuitive and can possibly bite you if you don’t know what’s going to happen in this…