Friday, October 12, 2012

USDA Launches National Soil Health Initiative at Central Ohio Farm

On October 11, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the launch of a new soil health awareness and education effort called “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil.” The new USDA initiative is "meant to highlight the benefits of improving and maintaining America’s soil," according to the news release announcing the project. The related NRCS "soil health" web page describes the main intent of the soil initiative, which is education-based, and designed to focus "more attention on soil health," and educate USDA "customers and the public about the positive impact healthy soils can have on productivity and conservation."

NRCS Chief Dave White rolled out the effort during a visit to a family-owned farm managed by David Brandt near Carroll, Ohio. "This initiative will help our farmers meet current and future demands for American-grown agriculture by encouraging good soil and natural resources practices that are beneficial to their operations," White said while speaking at the kick-off event.

A group of 21 commodity, farm and conservation organizations sent a letter to White following the project announcement, providing their support for the initiative. The letter noted that although "the benefits of voluntary soil health practices may be difficult to quantify, we stand ready to work with NRCS to help identify the costs and benefits of the various practices in order to assist producers when making decisions about whether to adopt them as conservation practices."

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