Growing Practical Soil Health Knowledge for Ohio Farmers
Sustainable Production
GeneticsGenomicsSeed quality
Lead Principal Investigator:
Elizabeth Hawkins, The Ohio State University
Co-Principal Investigators:
Project Code:
Contributing Organization (Checkoff):
Institution Funded:
Brief Project Summary:
Farmers often associate soil health with characteristics they observe in their fields and crop productivity. USDA defines soil health as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and people. While these definitions don’t completely align, farmers ask questions to better understand what soil health means for yields and how to track changes over time. This research identifies the best soil tests to measure soil health. Such tests need to be affordable, reliable and repeatable to show trends over time.
Key Beneficiaries:
#agronomists, #extension agents, #farmers
Unique Keywords:
#soil fertility, #soil health
Information And Results
Project Summary

Measuring soil health properties represents a great opportunity to better understand how farm management practices impact key soil functions. Soil health testing builds on our current methods of soil testing to provide additional information to farmers. Rather than focusing solely on soil chemistry, additional biological and physical components of soil are incorporated into a common framework. Building and maintaining high functioning soils require that all three key components (chemistry, biology and physical structure) to be consciously managed and optimized.

Data collected over the past two seasons are showing trends of increasing soil organic matter when fields are cover cropped or receiving manure compared to conventionally tilled fields. No-till practices have shown little effect on soil organic matter. However, more research is needed to better understand these trends, especially their impact on yield.

Project Objectives

- Provide free soil health testing to cooperating eFields farmers
- Broadly share knowledge gained from this project through a multifaceted outreach approach

Project Deliverables

Progress Of Work

Final Project Results

Benefit To Soybean Farmers

Soil health continues to be a critical interest for Ohio soybean farmers. Top needs include developing an understanding of how field-level management practices influence changes in soil health, benchmarking soil health indicators to improve interpretation of tests, and learning how soil health values relate to yield.

The United Soybean Research Retention policy will display final reports with the project once completed but working files will be purged after three years. And financial information after seven years. All pertinent information is in the final report or if you want more information, please contact the project lead at your state soybean organization or principal investigator listed on the project.