Celebrate World Soil Day With These Helpful Hints

Healthy soils reduce erosion and increase water holding capacity.

Healthy soils reduce erosion and increase water holding capacity.

Join us today as we celebrate World Soil Day! This event is held annually on December 5th as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.

Why Does Soil Health Matter?

Between 1982-2007, 14 million acres of prime farmland in the U.S. were lost to development. Erosion is another culprit for soil loss and degradation which results in poor crop yields. It can take up to 1,000 years to produce just 2-3 centimeters of topsoil, but you can take steps to protect and even “grow” soil!

Most farmers can increase their soil organic matter in three to 10 years if they are motivated about adopting conservation practices to achieve this goal.

Healthy soils:

  • Are high-performing and productive
  • Reduce production costs – and improve profits
  • Protect natural resources on AND off the farm
  • Reduce sediment runoff, increase efficiencies, and sustain wildlife habitat

One percent of organic matter in the top six inches of soil would hold approximately 27,000 gallons of water per acre!

O = organic, A = surface soil, B = subsoil, C = parent rock

O = organic, A = surface soil, B = subsoil, C = parent rock

Learn and Practice the 4 Soil Health Principles

  1. Keep the soil covered as much as possible.
  2. Manage soils more by disturbing them less.
  3. Keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil.
  4. Use plant diversity to increase diversity in the soil.

Soil is Alive!

Micro-organisms in the soil are responsible for creating good soil structure. This is essential for maximizing water holding capacity and reducing erosion. More than 1 billion of these micro-organisms can exist in just 1 teaspoon of healthy soil! Like all living things, however, they need just the right amount of water and air, year-round access to nutrients, and a stable habitat to thrive.

Soil tests are the first step in determining the health of your soils

Soil tests are the first step in determining the health of your soils.

These same micro-organisms are responsible to delivering nutrients from the soil to the roots of growing plants. Take care of them and they will help take care of you with reduced disease and pest problems and improved plant health.

Learn More About Soil Health

The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District, along with our partners at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, invite you to learn more about soil health. There are many resources available online or you can contact us at 503-210-6000. You can also learn more about World Soil Day at the United Nations website.

Special acknowledgement is given to NRCS for their handout “Soil Health Key Points” from which much of the above content was taken. You can download this sheet below for easy reference.

NRCS Soil Health Key Points
NRCS Soil Health Key Points
NRCS-Soil-Health-Principles.pdf
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