We can agree that healthy soil is essential for sustainable and productive agriculture, writes Rob Mikkelsen, Vice President, Communications, International Plant Nutrition Institute. While we have a general understanding of what soil health means, it can be difficult to define and even more difficult to agree on the best was to measure it. A definition certainly includes aspects of physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil.
Some proponents envision an undisturbed prairie or forest soil as providing the archetype of an ideal healthy soil. However, in real life, agriculture by its very nature is a disruptive human activity that we engage in to meet our existential need for farm products. Just harvesting a crop will subtly change soil properties.
We can agree that maintaining soil in its top possible condition will require careful stewardship, conservation, and greater appreciation of its unreplaceable value.