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Improving soil health and building new soil

Practical methods based on proven success.

Improving soil health and building new soil

Soil health is vital to ecosystem health. Today the U.S.A.'s biggest export, in tons and dollar value, is eroding topsoil. What topsoil remains is often drenched with chemicals and nearly devoid of life. This stops the soil-building process.

Fortunately topsoil can be grown fairly quickly. Even land so damaged it has no topsoil can be restored.

Tony & Jerrie Tipton
gullied dirt
Conventional techniques failed to revegetate this former gold mine.

After broadcasting seed, feeding hay to cattle jump-started soil-building processes.

tall grass
The restored land outperformed some nearby hayfields. On EcoResults! website.

Building soil and keeping it healthy

Soil loss and soil surface management by Graeme Hand. Good soil surface management can stop topsoil loss at the source, while helping native perennial grasses re-establish.

How to build new topsoil by botanist Christine Jones. Several centimeters of topsoil per year can form under favorable conditions, which good management can create. This article explains how to do it. May 2002.

Grazing management for healthy soils by Christine Jones. Well-managed grazing stimulates grasses to grow vigorously and develop healthy root systems. These provide food for soil life, rekindling the natural soil-forming process. This excellent illustrated article from Australia also explains below-ground plant competition. March 2000.

Restoring perennial grasslands by Christine Jones. The key to restoring perennial grasslands is restoring microbial activity and nutrient cycling by increasing the level of soil organic matter. Once conditions are right for them, perennial grasses will return. July 2001.

Working with soil life (articles). Soil organisms, particularly fungi that help plant roots absorb nutrients, are vital to maintaining soil health. The organisms present affect which nutrients are available and which plants can grow and thrive. Soil life can be seeded, its activity measured, and its health promoted by good management.

Revegetating soilless land (articles). Soil-building is a vital part of revegetating sites where topsoil has been lost or never existed in the first place.