The Keys to Soil Health

Unlock the secrets to soil health with workshops from MU and NRCS

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Producers are increasingly hearing about how using no-till and cover crops will help benefit soil health. But what actually is going on in the ground below your feet when these practices happen? Questions like this will be one of many answered in the Keys to Soil Health Workshop on February 11 in the Youth Building located at the Bates County Fairgrounds.

The workshop costs $10 and is sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS). The full-day event is geared toward teaching producers the science in the soils and will feature instruction and hands-on demonstrations from soil health specialists from the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the USDA.

Topics will include soil biology and how microbial life is needed for crop nutrient uptake, managing soil structure to help crops withstand drought, how cover crops can be a valuable tool and better management techniques to protect the greatest resource on the farm: the soil.

According to Kerry Clark, research specialist at Bradford Research Center in Columbia, the next revolution in agriculture will be dealing with soil health.

“The quality of our soil in the state is a silent killer,” added Clark. “We don’t realize that it’s effecting our yields and that we have degraded our soil structure and organic matter. What fertilizers were 30 years ago, we think soil health will be the next great bump in productivity.”

Hands-on demonstrations will include measurements of soil organic matter and soil structure. Cores sampled from local soil profiles also will be analyzed.

“We want producers to walk away with the decisions to make better management practices to help their farms,” said Clark. “This is science-based information to give you more information about what is going on out there in your fields.”

Registration is required and can be made by contacting Jill Staples at 573-239-2179 or by email at

The Bates County Fairgrounds are located at the southeast side of Nursery and Broadway streets.

This workshop is one of 16 beginning and advanced soil health workshops scheduled throughout the state in 2014.  Contact Jill Staples or your local NRCS office for more upcoming dates.

Upcoming dates include:

-January 27                        Edina
-February 3                        Marshall
-February 11                        Butler
-March 5                        Kennett
-March 11                        Lamar
-March 19                        Sikeston
-March 25                        Albany