Editors' Notebook

Soil Health gets a Checkup

Greg D Horstmeier
By  Greg D Horstmeier , DTN Editor-in-Chief
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The Mid-February Progressive Farmer focuses on the growing interest in soil health. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Brent Warren)

You've no doubt noticed the series of articles running on DTN/Progressive Farmer digital venues this week, "Listen to the Land." Those stories, part of a complete series in the Mid-February issue of "Progressive Farmer" magazine, will be running during the next few weeks online.

Progressive Farmer Editor-in-Chief Gregg Hillyer aspired to build a special issue around soil health for some time. The interest in soil health, and in finding ways to farm and ranch that improve that health while also supporting a healthy bank account, seems to be growing faster than microbes in a manure pile.

As Hillyer noted in his opening column for the issue, land stewardship is a critical part of farming and ranching. "Land is the ultimate natural resource that can't be manufactured," Hillyer wrote. "As caretakers, growers must be keen observers and assess how their actions and decisions influence the overall health of the soil. In effect, they must 'Listen to the Land.'"

Hillyer challenged our team of staff and freelance writers and photographers to capture the reflections of producers who are keenly listening. The result is a great collection of ideas, opinions and methods to respond to soil health needs.

As my mind listened to those who are listening, I took note of the vocabulary that's beginning to grow as well. Words such as "biomimicry," "regenerative," and "diversity" were once heard only from the organic agriculture set.

Those words aren't completely mainstream, yet. But I'm amazed at the dozens of conversations I've been in lately which included those words and phrases, and the "mainstream" agriculture mouths out of which they've come.

We're happy to be running the issue's stories, including some that did not run in the magazine, online. But to truly capture the full breadth and depth of that special issue, grab a copy of Mid-February Progressive Farmer. If you don't have a paper copy handy, you can look at the full digital version by going to the Resources area of DTNPF.com, then click on the digital issue link. Then pour whatever beverage puts you in the mood to learn, and find a comfortable spot from which to read. And to listen.

Thanks to Hillyer and the team for their great work!

Greg D. Horstmeier can be reached at greg.horstmeier@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @greghorstmeier

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