Soil Health Video Blitz

There have been several videos or video series that have caught my eye over the past few months and I’m going to put them all in one post now. I’ve only viewed about half of these to date and many are real gems of regenerative ag/soil health knowledge & philosophy.

First on the list is a blog/vlog made by University of South Carolina’s Dr. Robin (Buz) Kloot. He has recently been travelling the U.S. interviewing producers & researchers and posting videos on his site Below is a short one with Dr. Rick Haney, ARS in Texas. Buz also has a youtube channel with more video: Soil Trek 2013


Next up is NRCS’s Profiles in Soil Health. Really well produced short videos featuring producers who have succesfully implemented various soil health building practices (tools) in many different settings & scenarios. Below is a sampler featuring Darryl Crowley of Montana.


Next up are a few videos featuring Dr. Elaine Ingham. I’ve taken an intensive “Soil Food Web” course with Elaine and it was outstanding. I’m a firm believer in her take on the roll of soil biology in soil health. I’ve posted a couple other videos of hers here already and wanted to throw this link in this entry. It seems to be a decent FREE crash course on the same material in her intensive classes. I’m sure Soil Learning Centre may be sending advertising of some sort to your email but that’s a really small price to pay. Here’s the link to “Getting to Know Your Soil” sign up. The trailer/advertisement is below.

A great summary of the Soil Food Web:

If you’re into microscopy Elaine also has some excellent video tutorials on Youtube (The series is listed to the right):


To finish up the video blitz – The “Summer of Soil” in Europe was an interesting event held last summer that I’m still reading about and watching the interviews listed on the linked page. I’m not on the bandwagon of “Well, they’re doing it in Europe” by any means but the videos offer some great global perspective regarding soil health. Of course there is a lot of focus on policy, which, being a scientist, makes my eyes glaze over. But still some interesting stuff. Here’s a sampler:

That should keep ya busy for a while! 😉 Happy viewing!

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World Soil Day, & stuff

Ok, since the FAO (the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization) has declared Dec 5th World Soil Day, I thought I’d better get back to posting some blog content. Yes, that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek as I’m not exactly a fan of the UN or FAO but I try to focus on the “good” where ever it may be. Any recognition of soils as the foundation for our health and well being will be promoted here.

Given that, and after a perusing of the EUs “Global Soil Week” website (from last summer), much of what I see at these events is a lot of political/policy rhetoric and high end handwaving. Which isn’t all that bad, these things need to be discussed. But it does get tiresome and leaves me wanting to see or read something showing some real progress on the ground.

So, the next couple entries I make will be regarding documentation of real live soil conservation to get your mind thinking and whet your appettite for more technical and practical application.

And I would like to remind readers that has pages on both Facebook and Google+. Currently I’m fairly active sharing information on FB but I still haven’t quite figured out Google+. However, FB doesn’t let all the “likers” or followers, (whatever), see all of the items I share. Of course for a price they will let me “extend my reach”. That’s BS. So I’m going to make more of an effort to use & share information in Google+. If you have Facebook or Google+ accounts please search for the page and “Like” or “Add to circles”.


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The Soil Carbon Coalition and Challenge

Peter Donovan asked me a while back to make a pitch specifically for his “Soil Carbon Challenge” and I’m finally getting around to it. Sorry Peter, it’s been a crazy summer.


I’m including this link directly to his challenge page on his website “Soil Carbon Coalition” so you can get the details from there.

My take on Peter’s endeavor: This is a great approach (a challenge with a prize) to getting soil health practices on the ground – right now. No waiting and cussing and discussing. He is traveling around the country during summers and performing baseline and ongoing analysis of soil carbon trends correlated to specific farming/ranching practices. The goal is obviously to get as much carbon in your soil as possible. He uses a Carbon/Nitrogen combustion analyzer (very accurate machine, I’ve used one).

While Peter’s focus is on putting carbon into the soil is based on climate change my personal focus is not. Mine is simply improving soil health, soil resiliency, and crop/plant health. This diffference essentially makes no difference – we’re striving toward the same goal: Carbon in the soil. 

There is a charge to get the study going on your plot but you can look at his site or contact him for those details and whatever else he might be considering or analyzing in the process. I’m sure the study area does not have to be large either. Experiment, get crazy, do more than one experiment! 😉

Anyway, this is a really interesting approach and I wish him much success with it so I’m helping get the word out. If you want a way to monitor your progress toward healthy soil and healthy crops & range, this sounds like one great way to do it. Have the lab come to you! And hey, you may win something.

Give Peter’s site a look and consider what he’s offering.

Labor day is around the corner, where did the summer go? I hope yours was great.

Thanks for reading!

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COMET Farm Online Tool by USDA

This looks a like a really interesting and powerful tool. It’s purpose, in a nutshell, is to help producers understand and manage their operation to maximize carbon sequestration (and building soil health) and minimize energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

I would like to get feedback from real producers impressions in using this tool. You could reply to on this post or just send me an email. Does it work? Did you learn anything by using it? Was it difficult to use? Any other comments? I can tell you it does take some time to enter all the data about your farm history and what your goals are so registering would be beneficial from that standpoint because you can save your data. Click on the image below to go directly to the tool homepage.



You can also check out some other related tools on USDA’s climate change page.

I really would like your feedback no matter what size your operation is! Thanks for looking in.

Here is an excerpt about the tool from Tom Vilsack’s press recent press conference regarding USDA and climate change:

“This online tool is the next generation of our ongoing efforts to develop user-friendly tools to help farmers understand the greenhouse gas footprints of their operations.

Producers will input information about their land and current and past management practices to establish a baseline. The tool will let them select from a list of alternative conservation practices to see how each one changes their greenhouse gas emissions and carbon capture. For example, a producer planning to implement conservation tillage could estimate how that conservation practice will increase soil carbon, and decrease emissions for the operation overall.

Used in this way, COMET-Farm can help producers reach decisions that reduce energy costs, while building carbon stocks in the soil. It would also serve as a gateway for future efforts to help producers participate in voluntary carbon markets.

These new NRCS tools build on a campaign for soil health at USDA – because we know that healthy soil can absorb a significant amount of carbon, and help greatly in mitigating climate threats. By improving soil health we can simultaneously improve productivity, protect water resources, improve biodiversity, reduce erosion and help put carbon back into the ground where it belongs.

We also know that healthy soils are more resilient soils. Each pound of soil organic matter in the soil can hold 18-20 pounds of water – helping make farms more resilient to periods of drought and other weather extremes.

That’s why USDA has focused on helping our nation’s farmers and ranchers through our campaign – called “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil.” We know that soil conservation practices help farmers – but they also help mitigate the impacts of a changing climate. Efforts like these will only be stronger as we ramp up new, regionally-focused information sharing efforts.”

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The Atlantic: Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People

This is a great article brought to my attention by friends on Google+.

Mike Amaranthus & Bruce Allyn did a good job of authoring this summary of the relationship between healthy soil microbes and healthy human microbes. Everything is indeed connected.

It also bolsters the the notion that “soil health” specifically embodies the truly living component of soil. Without which, we just have an inert growing medium that is very difficult to keep chemically and physically balanced, otherwise known as dirt.

The Atlantic: Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People

Photo from The Atlantic

Photo from The Atlantic

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