Soil Health & Testing

Soil Testing

A soil test can provide information on the proper amount of lime and fertilizer to apply to your lawn, garden, crops, and other areas of your landscape.  When gardeners and farmers apply only as much lime and fertilizer as is necessary and at the appropriate time, nutrient runoff into surface or ground water is minimized, money is saved, and plant health is optimized.  Soil testing can also be used to diagnose common nutrient deficiencies or toxicities for plants that are growing poorly.

Click on the picture to go to the UMN soil testing website

Soil Testing

Soil Health and Cover Crops

There are agronomic and economic reasons to planting cover crops.  Keeping a cover on the soil all year long and using a diverse range of plants benefits the soil in numerous ways.  Cover crops equate to food for earthworms, who will play a part in aerating soils and fertilizing cash crops.  The more earthworms and soil aggregates in the soil, the better the cropland will infiltrate water.  Why is that important?  Because if water infiltrates the soils, then it's not running off of croplands and causing erosion problems. 

To learn more:

In this video by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation (USDA-NRCS), Dr. Buz Kloot explains basic elements of  soil health.  This video is part of a six-part series available on the UDA-NRCS YouTube Channel.

In this video, Dr. Kloot explains why using a cover crop improves soil health and prevents soil erosion.  Did you know that the Scott SWCD has a cover crop interseeder available for rent?  Visit or call (952) 492-5425 to find out more about available rental equipment you could use for planting cover crops.

In the last video in the series, Dr. Koot talks about how adding diversity to crops and using natural sources of phosphorus (like manure) can add the nutrients needed without the need for more chemicals. This benefits water quality, soil health, and the health of humans too.  Scott SWCD can help you with a whole farm planning approach like this.  Call or stop by today to see how they can help you.