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Soil health practices and productive 

Healthy soils produce high quality, nutrient dense produce. Furthermore, soils filled with strong rooted, organic matter are able to hold larger capacities of moisture. Moisture retention is not only better for crops, but also means less erosion. When the land retains water, it acts as a giant sponge, filtering and absorbing nutrients and contaminants that would otherwise enter water sources. Thriving soils, with abundant organic matter, stack benefits for farmers and their neighbors.


Proactive Farming
Long-Term Thinking

Your local SWCD advocates for farming and grazing practices that rebuild organic topsoil matter and restore degraded soil biodiversity. Our goal is to see productive farmlands, robust soils, and improved water quality.

Savvy agricultural professionals understand the significance of organic matter, including living organisms in the soil. Age old management practices like conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, composting, and rotational grazing have come back into practice.

The reactionary farmer believes most soil-related problems can be dealt with by using external inputs, aka… fertilizers, irrigation, subsoilers, or pesticides. But problems like nutrient deficiencies, minimal moisture retention, compacted soils, plant disease or insect infestations are often simply symptoms of underlying problems. Problems that are literally right beneath our feet... in the soil.

Exhaustion of organic soil matter, and a depletion of a diverse population of soil organisms is often the source of agricultural difficulties. Your local SWCD focuses on general soil health management and the strength of natural biological systems, which go a long way to preventing many agricultural issues.

Soil Health Principal #1


Over time, tillage reduces the pore spaces in soils; restricting infiltration and destroying biological glues. Limiting soil disturbance helps rebuild soil aggregates, pore spaces, soil glue, and organic matter. This is an essential step for long term soil productivity.

Soil Health Principal #2


The harvest of crops,  means the soil surface of a field is left bare until the next crop is planted. In the North, the next planting may be 5-7 months away. That's a long time for soil to be left bare. Cover crops will protect farmland during this vulnerable period.

Soil Health Principal #3

Maintain living roots in soil

Healthy plant roots are essential for good crop yields. Roots are good indicators of soil quality. Root systems help bind particles together. Furthermore, organic compounds are exuded by roots to provide nourishment for soil organisms.

Soil Health Principal #4

Promote diversity below ground

Biodiversity is the driver of healthy soils. Soil biodiversity is the web of biological activity below-ground . It improves water retention, aids in resisting soil erosion, and helps plant nutrition, while controlling soil pests and disease.


Buffer Law

Conservation buffers are best described as strips or other areas of land in permanent vegetation that help control pollutants, mitigate the movement of sediment, nutrients, and pesticideds within farm fields and from farm fields. Filter strips, riparian buffers (predominantly trees and shrubs next to water courses), field borders, grassed waterways, field windbreaks, shelterbelts, and contour grass strips are all examples of conservation buffers. The small amount of land taken out of production helps producers meet environmental and economic goals.
Buffers can be especially helpful to you in maintaining a productive, profitable, and responsible farming or ranching operation.
Today, America's farms and ranches do more
than produce crops and livestock. They play an important role in maintaining the environmental quality enjoyed by all citizens. Conservation buffers can help you protect soil, air, and water quality and improve fish and wildlife habitat... while you demonstrate your commitment to
land stewardship.

Buffer Specialist

Sam Seybold

Sam can assist landowners with questions about buffers and agricultural best management practices.

Phone 218-927-7376



Soil Health & Outreach Specialist

Veronica Lundquist

Veronica can assist landowners with questions about soil health practices and outreach events related to soil health and other natural resource events.

Phone 218-927-7286


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