The purpose of the Mississippi Healthy Soils Initiative is to help growers be more profitable and sustainable by improving the health of their most valuable asset, the soil. Management systems and practices used to build healthy soils also produce many environmental benefits such as reducing sediment and nutrient loss, reducing irrigation water demand through improved infiltration and holding capacity, and sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere.

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Building healthy soil

Farmers across the U.S. are transitioning to agricultural management systems and practices that focus on rebuilding the soil to produce more profitable crops. There are several key concepts to building healthy soil that apply universally, regardless of climate, terrain, crops, and etc. These principals include:

  1. Keep the soil covered as much as possible
  2. Disturb the soil as little as possible
  3. Keep plants growing throughout the year
  4. Diversify plant growth using crop rotation and cover crops
  5. Maintain adequate and balanced soil nutrients

Many of the principals listed above contrast common agricultural management systems throughout the Delta and Mississippi. Concerns such as drainage, resistant weeds, pests and disease and irrigation practices are commonly listed as obstacles to adopting the principles needed to build healthy soil. However, some Mississippi producers are integrating these alternative approaches in the production with great success. This initiative plans to build upon these successes through field demonstrations and trials in order to assist Mississippi growers in making successful transitions to a more sustainable and profitable way of farming.