What is healthy soil? Most farmers strive for a healthy, fertile soil that has good tilth. But do these terms — soil health, soil fertility and good tilth — all mean the same thing to all of us? I bet you have an image in your mind of what the soil and the crop growing in it should look like. But in today’s
world, with all the available technology, plant protective fungicides, insecticides, etc. along with plenty of soluble nutrients, looking at a “good” crop can be deceiving. It may in fact be wearing a lot of ‘make-up,’ covering up its true state of health. In recent years, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has started to focus more on soil health and what constitutes a “healthy” soil.
If we define soil health using the NRCS’ definition, it is “the capacity to function.” I thought about this definition for quite some time and decided I needed to add to it, clarifying the thought as “the capacity to function without intervention.” I define intervention as plant alterations, fungicides, insecticides, etc. Healthy soil should produce healthy crops without intervention.