As the earth’s population continues to grow and the demands on our soil increases, we need to continue raising awareness about the importance of healthy soil and advocate for the sustainable management of one of our most precious resources. I believe there is no better day to talk about the importance of our soil than today - World Soil Day. This year’s World Soil Day campaign is “Stop Soil Erosion, Save Our Future.”

With the increased demand for food production to feed our growing population, a decrease in available land, and the United States and the world becoming more dependent on finite resources just to keep up with demand, healthy soil matters to all of us. Helping to keep the soil from eroding off of our farmlands is of upmost importance.

Managing for soil health is one of the most effective ways for farmers to increase crop productivity and profitability while simultaneously reducing the effects of soil erosion on their fields. But soil health isn’t achieved overnight. It takes patience, fortitude and a system of practices working together to produce healthy, fully-functioning soils.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is excited to work hand-in-hand with Indiana farmers to find the best combination of conservation practices to manage their land for optimal soil heath and minimal soil erosion. The excitement is building as farmers are seeing incredible success when groups of practices such as no-till, cover crops, advanced nutrient and pest management, and buffers are implemented together as a “system.”

Implementing a soil health management system can lead to greater water absorption and retention, making soil less susceptible to runoff and erosion. Soil that is covered year-round with crops, crop residue, grass or cover crops is much less susceptible to erosion from wind and water. Cropping systems that utilize practices like no-till keep soil undisturbed from harvest to planting while reducing the likelihood of erosion.

World Soil Day reminds us all that we owe our existence to the soil. As we face the need to produce more food and fiber and are faced with climate and sustainability challenges, I believe there is no better time to work hand-in-hand with Hoosier farmers to improve the health of this critical living resource.

If you would like to learn more about improving the health of your soil, stop by the NRCS office nearest you to talk to a district conservationist or go online to www.in.nrcs.usda.gov. To learn more about the World Soils Day, please visit: http://www.fao.org/world-soil-day/en/.