Coordinating Coalition for Soil Health

Organizations allied for a future when soil health is the foundation for managing our natural resources

Soil layers of the Palouse region of eastern Washington are revealed in a deep road cut. Photo by Jim Richardson

Vision Statement: Soil health is the foundation for managing our natural resources.

Statement of Purpose: Only living things can have health or be impoverished from want of it.

Soil is very much alive, teeming with countless bacteria, fungi, earthworms and many other kinds of organisms that are the foundation of an elegant symbiotic ecosystem. Soil can be managed to provide nutrients for plant growth, absorb and hold rainwater for use during dryer periods, filter and buffer potential pollutants from leaving our fields, serve as a firm foundation for agricultural activities, and provide habitat for soil organisms to flourish and diversify to keep the ecosystem running smoothly.

Soil health is the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. Healthy soils contribute to a range of ecosystem functions as appropriate to the environment, such as sustaining plant and animal productivity and biodiversity, maintaining or enhancing water and air quality, and supporting human health and habitation.

The pathway to soil health is in the context of what works best for the landowner and operator. A healthy soil can persist, a fragile or depleted soil can be reinvigorated, and ecosystem functions can sustain their maximum value for the environment and society if people who manage the land follow four soil health principles:

  • Use plant diversity to increase biological diversity in the soil,
  • Manage soils more by disturbing them less,
  • Keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil, and
  • Keep the soil covered as much as possible

We recognize that the many organizations endorsing these concepts and principles have different histories, missions, sizes, resources, objectives, and structures. Only together can we achieve all that is needed to make soil health a mainstay of land and resource management.

Accordingly, the organizations listed below pledge our full engagement in a coalition that leverages our individual capacities to: develop scientific knowledge, technologies, and applications that reflect the awareness that soil is a living ecosystem; promote the idea that soils can be managed to be healthy; unite in our efforts to disseminate knowledge of soil health as essential for sustaining the basic necessities of life – food, water, air, shelter – for future generations; and agree that  our vision of soil health as a foundation for land management and natural resources policies can best be achieved through our sustained partnership.

The Coordinating Coalition for Soil Health is hereby established by unanimous consent of attendees at a partnership meeting convened by the Soil Health Institute on October 26-27, 2016, at Ardmore, Oklahoma.  The Coalition is established to facilitate strategic coordination across individual regional and national organizations to optimize impact and scale of those efforts.  The Coalition advances our vision and implements actions to support soil health through its working groups, which are championed voluntarily by one or more of the Coalition’s participating organizations.  Participants in the Coalition encourage its organizations to engage in additional partnerships.  Regional and national organizations that endorse our vision and agree to actively collaborate to promote and engage in researching, resourcing, promoting, and teaching soil health are welcome to join this Coalition, to be coordinated and convened by the Soil Health Institute according to the desires of its participants.

Download the full Coordinating Coalition for Soil Health Report