By Steve Culman, John Fulton, Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Elizabeth Hawkins, Eric Richer, CCA, Ohio State University Extension
Improving soil health (SH) can provide a variety of benefits including improved water infiltration, increased water holding capacity, and increased nutrient availability. However, it can be challenging to quantify these benefits in the field.
In 2020, the eFields program is kicking off an effort to help better understand how management practices influence soil health and ultimately water quality. OSU Extension has worked to identify a few soil tests that can provide helpful indicators of improved soil health. Though several health tests exist, we focused on tests that are simple, economical, and repeatable. We are looking for farmers interested in soil health and who want to participate in a statewide field survey collecting soil health data from fields under various management practices, specifically conventional tillage, no-till, organic nutrient management, and cover cropping. The results from this effort will be used to guide recommendations for improving soil health on Ohio farms. Soil health indicators are also being added to selected eFields trials including nitrogen rate and manure sidedress.
If you are interested in learning more about participating in eFields trials focused on soil health, reach out to your local Extension educator or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the soil health indicators and how to use them, visit: go.osu.edu/MeasureSH.