Soil Health Management Planning
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A collaborative effort funded by NH NRCS and a Specialty Crops Block Grant has been building on the above work since 2010 to develop a framework for Soil Health Management Planning (SHMP) and implementation (Project collaborators: Bianca Moebius-Clune, Cornell Soil Health Team; Dorn Cox, Greenstart NH Executive Director; Brandon Smith, NH NRCS Agronomist; NH Conservation Districts staff; County NRCS staff; Producers).

Soil Health Management Conservation Activity Plans are analogous with the NRCS’s Nutrient Management Plans in that soil testing is used as the field- or sub-field specific basis for data-driven management. The new SHMP framework provides structured guidance for choosing specific and effective combinations of practices (e.g. specific cover crop types, targeted deep tillage, mulching, forage planting, organic additions) that are feasible for the operation developing the plan. A schedule for implementation of chosen practices is then established for each field. Pilot soil health management plans for eighteen cooperating farms in four NH counties are currently being developed.

An example of the process, and a table with management options by indicator, are provided in the downloadable documents made available for Soil Health outreach events:

  • Soil Health Testing and Management Planning Handout (.pdf, 2 page, 1.4 MB) – provides an overview of testing, interpretation, and the management planning process.

  • Soil Health Testing and Management Planning Poster (.pdf, 56”x36”, 2 MB) – provides an overview of testing, interpretation, and the management planning process.

  • Management Options Table with NRCS practice codes (.pdf, 2 page, 72 KB) – links measured constraints (e.g. low aggregate stability) to multiple short-term management options (e.g. growing shallow rooted cover crops), and long-term management options (e.g. reduced tillage) to address these constraints. Many of the suggested practices are cost-shared by NRCS funds through EQIP and CSP for qualified producers.