Madison County Healthy Soil Initiative

2015 Annual Report for OW15-032

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2015: $50,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Robbie Taylor
Madison SWCD

Madison County Healthy Soil Initiative


Madison Soil and Water Conservation District conducts study to provide information on the benefits of practicing sound Soil Health practices

The Madison Soil & Water Conservation District located in Rexburg, Madison County, Idaho is conducting a study as part of the Madison County Soil Health Initiative to provide data that show sound Soil Health Practices such as Cover Crops, No-Tillage/Minimum Tillage, Variable Rate Fertilizing and diverse crop rotations will improve soil productivity, conserve irrigation water, increase resource savings, reduce erosion and be economically viable to agricultural producers. 2015 is the first year of this three year study. One of the main goals of this project is to reduce dependency on chemical applications. The second main goal is to improve soil organic matter.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Utilizing five agricultural producers and 14 fields, partnering with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, SIMPLOT Grower Solutions soil samples and tests were taken to establish a beginning base line for both physical and biological properties of the soil. These fields will be monitored for three years using these same soil testing and analysis procedures to determine changes due to adoption of soil health procedures. In addition, the producers will track and record crop production inputs and outputs along with costs. These inputs will be collected each year for three years to determine the cost effectiveness of the soil health practices.


The first year (baseline) data was collected on the 14 test fields. This data was compiled and geo-referenced to the individual’s sites. Procedures and protocols have been established for the project. Agricultural inputs/outputs are being collected and compiled in to a database. Protocols have been developed for data collections. A spreadsheet has been established, and is attached for reference, to track two separate tests for each of the 14 crop fields. The first test known as the “Haney” test tracks water extract and includes tests for soil slaking, infiltration rates for the first inch, infiltration rates for the second inch, crop residue, worm counts, organic matter, Solvita Co2 burst, organic nitrogen ppm N, and total organic carbon ppm C. A H3A extract test that includes organic phosphorus ppm P and a soil health test that includes soil health calculations. The “Haney” test was conducted by Ward laboratories. The second test using soil samples is a biological test that was conducted by EarthFork laboratories and tests biological analysis that includes total bacteria, total fungi and total bacteria to total bacteria. Management information was collected that tracks previous crops, whether cover crops were used, was no tillage used and if biologicals was used.


Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

General project awareness among agriculture producers is being created. Additional interest in soil health practices is being generated throughout Eastern Idaho. One local news article about soil health resulted in 12 Environmental Quality Initiative Program (EQIP) signups with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Five additional Conservation Districts in Eastern Idaho have conducted workshops and tours highlighting soil health practices and futures workshops and tours are being scheduled.


Conn Crapo
Skyline Farms
1980 E. 500 N.
St. Anthony, ID 83445
Terry Wilcox
Agriculture Producer
Floyd Wilcox & Sons
1110 Golden Beauty Drive
Rexburg, ID 83440
Roy Jeppesen

Agriculture Producer
Jeppesen Brothers Ranch
1075 N. 9th E.
Rexburg, ID 83440
Ken Beckmann
District Conservationist
302 Profit Street
Rexburg, ID 83440
Office Phone: 2083565701
Jeff Parkinson
Agriculture Producer
Desert Gem Cover Crops
6303 N. 6000 W.
Rexburg, ID 83440
Greg Blaser
District Board Chairman
Madison SWCD
5448 North 5000 West
Rexburg, ID 83440
Office Phone: 2086560662
Boyd Smith
Agriculture Producer
Brandon Run
4371 S. 5500 W.
Rexburg, ID 83440