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Sustainable Farming Connection
Where farmers find and share information.

Soil Health Menu
Build healthy soil to promote crop-, livestock- and
human health.

newTool box measures success from the ground up -- New resource helps farmers track soil quality, wildlife, water, and quality of life as well as finances.

red ballSoil: The Foundation of Life -- J.Patrick Madden, President of the World Sustainable Agriculture Association, describes how healthy soil produces healthy crops and healthy people.

Soil Health Classics Online
Much theory, practice and inspiration can be gleaned from books and pamphlets first published decades ago. Some of these hard-to-find works are finding their way onto the world wide web at the The Holistic Agriculture Library website:

hot pepper Hot Links:
red ballWoods End Research Laboratory -- Extensive compost and soil analyses, including an inexpensive compost maturity and soil microbial respiration test kits.
red ballSoil Foodweb Incorporated -- SFI offers tests for the critical living components of your soil, including bacterial and fungal biomass, protozoans, nematodes, vessicular-arbuscular mycorrhize (VAM), and microarthropods. Site includes interesting articles and an excellent photo gallery of soil critters at work. SFI evolved from the pioneering work of soil ecologist Elaine Ingham at Oregon State University.
red ballDrought Proofing Your Farm -- Practical suggestions for improving the health of your soil to better withstand drought. The Drought of '88 was still fresh in the mind of the author, Walter Goldstein, agronomist at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, East Troy, Wis. when he wrote this in '89. Focuses heavily on the structure-improving role of sweetclovers. Targeted primarily at farmers in the Northern Plains. But any farmer who fears drought will take something away from reading this.
red ballEarthworms and Crop Management -- An excellent, authoritative primer from Purdue soil scientist Eileen Kladivko. General ecology, affects on soil properties and how your management helps -- or hurts -- earthworms. See also The Role of Earthworms in Healthy Soils for another good summary of earthworm benefits. There are lots of fun and informative worm sites on the web. Try starting your surfing from links at The Burrow, The Worm Page or The Worm Digest. Let us know what you find. Email cdcramer@clarityconnect.com
red ballAerenchyma -- Lifelines for Living Underwater -- Article from USDA-ARS magazine describes how special cells in the roots of warm-season grasses allow them to grow in saturated soils, penetrate compacted layers, and tolerate both drought and flood. Requires Adobe Acrobat reader to view. (Adobe Acrobat download site.) Interesting reading!
red ball USDA-NRCS Soil Quality Institute -- Good introduction and resources including, The Soil Biology PrimerSoil Quality Information Sheets, Soil Quality Card Design Guide, and  Agronomy Technical Notes Series summaries of the effects of cover crops, rotations and no-till on soil quality. 
red ballBuilding Your Soil -- The Role of Earthworms in Healthy Soils -- Good checklist summary from the Farmer to Farmer newsletter.
red ballUnearthing secrets locked deep inside each fistful of soil -- Article condensed from March '97 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. "To scientists at the National Soil Tilth Lab in Ames, Iowa, it's not just dirt they are probing--it's the planet's sustaining surface."
red ballMore Soil Health Links

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Craig Cramer cdcramer@clarityconnect.com

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