Making sense of Soil Health Reports – A partnership to develop recommendations for soil health testing, interpretation

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2018: $29,980.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2021
Grant Recipient: The Ohio State University
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Margaret Kalcic
Ohio State University

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, hay, oats, soybeans, wheat


  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Most Midwest grain (corn and soybean) farmers value the importance and role of soil health for sustainable agriculture, however lack the tools and knowledge to test and interpret indicators of soil health. Currently available commercial soil health test reports seldom provide practical recommendations for improving and/or maintaining on-farm soil health. Thus, farmers are left to their own intuition for interpretation and adoption of good soil health practices. We have formed partnerships with soil scientists and farmers to conduct on-farm monitoring of soil health, identify consistent and reliable soil health indicators, and develop practical management recommendations matrix based on soil health test results. We will disseminate the information and outcomes from this work at two workshops, and two field days hosted by participating farmers. Educational materials including extension factsheets, agronomy reports, and peer reviewed publications will be developed and made available through OSU Extension. The project will benefit a broader group of farmers and educators by providing a matrix of regionally valid, sensitive, reliable indicators for soil health testing, interpretation, and practical recommendations. The outcomes will translate into better decision making, reduction of unnecessary soil testing expenses for farmers, and also input costs savings to farmers in the North-central region.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Eight field research sites on 4 different farms will be selected to represent a range of soils, climate, crop rotations, and management practices. Objectives will be to:

    • Monitor relevant soil health parameters, agronomic factors and yields at 8 research sites
    • Develop a list of preferred indicators for rapid to comprehensive soil health testing that is most suitable for the region
    • Develop interpretations and practical recommendations based on soil health testing and long-term research
    • Conduct outreach with field days, agronomy reports, extension factsheets, and conference presentations
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.