Finding the right mix for soil health

Explore the below-ground communities that impact soil health at MSU Agriculture Innovation Day on Aug. 24, 2017, at the Lake City Research Center.

Lisa Tiemann and Dean Baas teach participants about soil health at the 2016 MSU Agriculture Innovation Day. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz, MSU CABS.

Lisa Tiemann and Dean Baas teach participants about soil health at the 2016 MSU Agriculture Innovation Day. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz, MSU CABS.

Soils are not just dirt or a mere substrate to hold the roots of growing plants. They are alive, and like any living thing, they can be healthy or not!

A healthy soil is productive with good infiltration, water holding capacity and efficient nutrient cycling. We know a good soil when we see it. It has a dark, rich color and has that distinctive earthy smell, which is created by the organisms living in the soil. Although soil health is hard to quantify, we know that living roots, soil organic matter and a diverse mix of bacteria, fungi, nematodes, protozoa, earthworms and arthropods are all critical components.

Living systems are complex. They need the right foods, environment and care to thrive. Soils are the same. During Michigan State University’s Agriculture Innovation Day: Focus on Forages and the Future on Aug. 24, 2017, participants will hear from experts as they discuss the science behind finding the right mix for soil health and explore how the above-ground growth can impact the life in the soil.

Meet our experts

Lisa Tiemann, MSU assistant professor of soil biology, focuses her research on understanding the mechanisms of soil organic matter formation and stabilization and the microbial controls on soil nitrogen cycling in agroecosystems.

Dean Baas, MSU Extension educator in sustainable agriculture, is involved in cover crop, soil health and organic agriculture research and education.

Join Tiemann and Baas as they look below ground at the complex communities that impact the health of soil and discuss how the plant mix above ground impacts these communities.

MSU Agriculture Innovation Day is an annual event focusing on in-depth education on critical topics. The event rotates to various locations throughout the state to give farmers access to experts who can help them improve their businesses while maintaining environmentally sound practices on their farms. To learn more about the event and the sessions being offered, visit MSU Agriculture Innovation DayPre-registration is encouraged, but not required. 

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