soil health

USDA / NRCS

The Thompson Farm and Ranch straddles the Kansas-Nebraska line. Drought in this region is entering its fourth year. The Thompson family uses no-till practices to grow dryland wheat and corn and also run cows.

Harvest Public Media

Nebraska farmer Bill Volkmer describes himself as an "old farmer." But this old farmer is willing to learn some new tricks. He started planting cover crops in 2011.

Jason Baker / Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo

Playas benefit from practices that result in good soil health.

Improving the health and quality of the soil is one of the easiest and most effective ways producers can increase crop productivity, hence profitability, while benefitting wildlife and improving the environment. No-till practices, plus the planting of cover crops, mean less soil moves as runoff into playas during rain events.

Playa wetlands benefit from practices that result in good soil health.

Scott Bauer / USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Western Kansas is a semi-arid region, with yearly precipitation at 17-19 inches. Progressive farmers understand their biggest challenge is capturing and holding every drop of moisture they can.

Farm Foundation

Southwest Kansas producer Steve Arnold had been a big irrigator. Ten wells, numerous pivot irrigation systems and 4-wheel-drive tractors on a farm near Johnson City.

USGS

South-central Nebraska producer John Kinley has a three-acre rainwater basin in a crop field. He talks about progressive practices such as no-till production and cover cropping.

Scott Bauer / USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Playa wetlands benefit from practices that result in good soil health. The Natural Resources Conservation Service says there are four principles to improving soil health: