Dr. Dianna Bagnall: A New Tool for Farmers to Build Drought Resilience through Soil Health

Farmers know that soil health-promoting practices increase soil organic carbon, drought resilience, and farm profitability. Despite this, equations provided in soil science literature have not shown this relationship. As a result, farmers have not had a tool that estimates how a management practice will change their farm’s drought resilience.

New data from the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health has allowed scientists at the Soil Health Institute to create new equations. These equations capture the link between soil organic carbon and plant-available water. The newly collected data include the effects of soil health-promoting practices and soil structure.

Using the new equations, Colorado State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Soil Health Institute have developed a decision support tool that will be freely available as a part of the online CarbOn Management and Emissions Tool (COMET-Farm). The decision support tool, currently in beta version, will allow farmers to explore how to build soil carbon and improve drought resilience. Farmers and their advisers can calculate changes in plant-available water that are driven by soil health management practices, such as no-till or cover crops. This significant advancement provides a powerful incentive to drive the adoption of soil health management practices and enhance on-farm profitability.

For more information see our video below: