S.D. Soil Health Coalition moving forward | TSLN.com

S.D. Soil Health Coalition moving forward

Colette Kessler
For The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition

The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition is moving forward with plans for improving the health and productivity of South Dakota soils. "Production agriculture is dependent upon the soil's capacity to function properly and through the new Coalition, we are hoping to help people further understand natural resources thus adding value to their current agricultural production," says Doug Sieck, SD Soil Health Coalition Board Chair who ranches near Selby, SD. "Soil is more than just a medium for growing crops and grass. It is composed of relationships between billions of living organisms. It's amazing how microorganisms respond to feeding and management just as a herd of cattle, or a grain crop responds to feeding and management." The Coalition's mission statement reads: "To promote healthy soil."

Jeff Zimprich, State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Huron, SD, is pleased with the progress being made. "It speaks well for the South Dakotans when we see the cooperative spirit of people and entities spread across the state coming together so quickly for this important cause," says Zimprich. Existing SD groups and organizations are generously helping the new entity with by-laws, articles of incorporation and applying for a 501c3 status. "We're fortunate in South Dakota to have energetic and experienced professionals–on the farm or ranch, in organizations, and in state and local government–all putting energy of their own expertise toward bettering the health of our soil, the foundation of our $25.6 billion agricultural industry," says Zimprich.

Many organizations and entities are stepping up to support the new farmer/rancher-led, grass-roots coalition including South Dakota's Conservation Districts, the NRCS, South Dakota State University, SDSU Extension, the State of South Dakota Department of Agriculture, SD No-Till Association and the SD Cattlemen's Association. Particularly, the successful SD Grassland Coalition who is providing leadership and fostering development of the SD Soil Health Coalition, with the long-term goal of its becoming its own entity. As the first meetings progressed, seven South Dakota farmers and ranchers volunteered to serve on the first Board of Directors: Al Miron, Minnehaha Co.; Bryan Jorgensen, Tripp Co.; Dennis Hoyle, Edmunds Co.; Dan Forgey, Potter Co; Levi Neuharth, Stanley Co.; Terry Ness, Hughes Co., and Doug Sieck, Walworth Co. who is serving as Chair.

Sieck and the other members are actively reaching out to fellow farmers and ranchers, both with large and small acreages, urban neighbors, and others who want to learn more about keeping their soil resource healthy and productive. The next monthly meeting will be August 20, 2015 in Mitchell. The SD Soil Health Coalition can be reached via email at sdsoilhealth@gmail.org or visit their web site: http://www.sdsoilhealth.org to contact the board members or find membership information. The Coalition has also started a presence on social media. Find the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition page on Face Book and the member group, and on Twitter, @SDSHCoalition.

“Soil is more than just a medium for growing crops and grass. It is composed of relationships between billions of living organisms. It’s amazing how microorganisms respond to feeding and management just as a herd of cattle, or a grain crop responds to feeding and management.Doug Sieck, S.D. Soil Health Coalition Board Chair

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