Overstreet: Long live the soil: Saluting the resources that sustains us

January 8, 2014 


— Too often, it’s treated like dirt.

And it’s easy to understand why. Soil is hidden from view, making it easy to take for granted. Indeed, few who live off the farm have reason to give it a second thought. Yet this amazing resource is responsible for nearly all life on the planet. Fortunately, scientists, conservationists and farmers are increasingly recognizing that keeping our soil healthy and functioning is the key to our survival.

Here in South Carolina, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and our conservation partners, such as the Soil and Water Conservation districts and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, are working directly with private landowners to improve the health of the soil on our working lands. By improving the health of the soil, we also are improving the health and vitality of our farms, families and communities.

This renewed focus on soil health has created an exciting new revolution in American agriculture as farmers, ranchers and other landowners increasingly make their land more productive and sustainable through soil-health-management systems. Although farming operations are all different, most can benefit from keeping the soil covered as much as possible, disturbing the soil as little as possible, keeping plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil and diversifying plants as much as possible using crop rotation and cover crops.

By improving soil health, South Carolina’s farmers can harvest benefits on and off the farm, increasing farmland sustainability and resilience, improving water and air quality, providing wildlife habitat and reducing flooding.

We owe our existence to the soil. As we face mounting global production and climate and sustainability challenges, I believe there is no better time to work hand-in-hand with South Carolina’s farmers and ranchers to improve the health of this critical living resource.

The promise of our future depends on it.

To learn more about basics and benefits of soil health, visit “Unlock the Secrets of the Soil” at nrcs.usda.gov.

Amy Overstreet

USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service


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