Home 5 Ag Stories The dirt under your fingernails is alive and well

The dirt under your fingernails is alive and well

This spring when you clean off your plow realize the dirt under your fingernails is alive. Move over water quality, there’s a new topic in town and it’s called soil health. But a farmer’s number one concern is it worth time and money maintaining their soil.

“It is their long-term foundation for what they do. If you don’t protect the soil and soil health, that foundation to your entire production system is at risk and the natural resource foundation is a very important part of sustainability,” Chief Scientific Officer, at the Soil Health Institute, Steve Shafer says.

Soil health is a very complex issue and new to many farmers. Shafer says there are three general characteristics of soil.

“There are physical characteristics, like how water gets in and the overall structure of the soil and how it holds water and air; there’s the chemical aspects we know and love; and then there is the biological which we are just coming to learn about.”

Shafer says if we think about holding all three of those in our mind at once and what makes a good productive soil, we have a good basis to talk about it.

He spoke about barriers to advancing soil health management at the second annual Soil Health Conference at Iowa State University in Ames Thursday.