The narrative below is an overview of the presentations made by Mike Hubbs and Greg Brann at the 2014 Milan No-till Day.
Soil Health: The continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living organism, sustaining and improving soil, plant and animal resources.
How do you improve soil health?
Less Disturbance: Reducing tillage is essential to protecting benefits of cover and root growth. Disturbances can also be excessive nutrients, pesticides, uncontrolled traffic, grazing without a recovery period or anything else that impacts the soil.
Increase Cover: Cover is essential to increase soil carbon; the start of improving all functions in the soil. Cover can be increased by good agronomic practices and less disturbance. Crop diversity and living roots also increases soil carbon.
Increase Diversity: Plant diversity improves soil health by providing different root exudates (sugars) to feed soil life. Different root forms and different rooting depths all improve soil health and soil life. Diversity in soil life improves resilience of the soil as well as aggregate stability. Aggregate stability is important because the soil maintains a good air and moisture relationship (pore space).