Except for a few rare exceptions, farmers can't be farmers without soil. Since the first human poked around with a stick and purposely placed seeds into that earth, farmers, and human civilization, have been tied to the soil.
Over the years, there have been a lot of words, phrases and philosophies around what is good for soil and what might not be so good. A lot of that is coming back to the forefront as, suddenly, soil is cool.
Soil institutes, soil alliances, soil conventions, soil conservation and soil conversations: You can hardly throw a root ball these days without hitting some reference to someone talking about soil.
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For a thorough look at the current thinking about soil, lay your hands on the most recent, Mid-February, issue of our sister publication, The Progressive Farmer. Editor in chief Gregg Hillyer and his team, including a number of names very familiar to DTN subscribers and readers, have created quite a compilation of the state of the art of soil health with that issue, entitled "Underground Movement."
If you don't have that magazine coming to your mailbox, well, you should. In the short term, you can fill that hole electronically by reading the latest issue online at DTNPF-DIGITAL.com. You can also find a link to those issues, if you're reading this blog on DTNPF.com website, in our "Resources" area.
The magazine issue is full of practical lessons on improving soil health, building organic matter and other good soil components, and how to keep it from leaving your farm. You'll see stories on farmers who have reversed the trend of organic matter loss, actually making soil while they grow profitable crops. A lot of focus is on cover crops, which is one of the hottest topics in farming today.
We'll be running some of those stories on our websites and other venues soon. We'll also talk more about the idea of soil stewardship, and some of the coming controversy around that idea, in the months ahead.
Greg Horstmeier can be reached at email@example.com
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