What is soil?
Soil is a living system made of minerals, air, water, and organic matter.
Minerals are described by size from largest to smallest: sand, silt, and clay. The amount of each of these minerals determines the texture of the soil and how well it drains or holds onto water.
The organic matter is made of living roots, decayed plant material, and microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae.
In a tiny pinch of soil, there is an abundance of life and a web of activity. Microorganisms and plants interact around the plant's roots. Bacteria and fungi provide nutrients that growing plants need, and plants return different nutrients that the organisms need.
How do you keep soil healthy?
Feed it and protect it!
Add organic matter
Use cover crops, crop rotation, year-round crops
Grow many different kinds of plants
Keep it covered
Use cover crops, mulch
Don’t disturb it
Use low or no-till methods
Soil education partnership
We are partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Oregon State University Extension Service to provide farmers with the information and resources they need to improve soil health and increase soil organic matter. Specific cover crop recommendations and financial assistance may be available to help farmers get started. Learn more about our Financial Assistance services.
What we do
Our work is rooted in healthy soil and it’s the foundation of all of our conservation projects. Most of our soil work falls into these categories:
Helping farmers improve their soil healthLearn more about Working Farms, Forests & Gardens
For the community
Soil health for home, school, and community gardensLearn more about community and demonstration gardens
Soil health and erosion control along your stream, including on Sauvie IslandLearn more about Streams & Wetlands services
Find out if you're in our service area.
Related services to help you with healthy soil:
Each year we partner with our neighbors at Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District to host Soil School, a day-long workshop that includes multiple sessions on a wide variety of topics – all having to do with soil.
Learn how to test your soil
Soil Sampling, EC628 (Oregon State University Extension Service)View and download brochure
Find out where to take your soil sample to be tested
Analytical Laboratories Serving OregonView and download brochure
Farms & Soil Conservationist
Contact me about:Soil health, farms and livestock