Healthy Soil Resources

Healthy soil is the key to a healthy environment!

Smart landscaping practices are essential to maintaining a healthy soil.  Native plants, reduced fertilizer use, and an overall consciousness of soil quality are all important factors to becoming a key player in the health of the environment around you.  

There are many excellent resources throughout New Jersey that will help give you a better understanding on how to maintain quality soil, as well as how to make gardening and landscaping much simpler and environment friendly.

Use these tools to help you develop and maintain a healthy soil on your residential, commercial, or agricultural properties!

Maintaining a natural landscape will help prevent erosion and other landscape degradation.

Resources for Understanding and Achieving Healthy Soil

  1. Low Maintenance Landscaping Guide for the Barnegat Bay Watershed
  2. New Jersey Soil Health Assessment Guide
  3. USDA-NRCS explains – What is Soil Health?
  4. Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), Soils Matter Get the Scoop Newsletter / Blog
  5. Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory – Soil Testing Instructions and Kit
  6. Rutgers County Extensions
  7. The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) celebrated the International Year of Soils, in 2015. Educational materials including lesson plans, activities, and information is offered to support IYS.
  8. NRCS soil health initiatives
  9. USDA NRCS Web Soil Survey – access soil maps and data for just about anywhere in the country to use with your students.
  10. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History explores Dig It! The Secrets of Soil. Lesson Plans and activities are offered for Educators. 
  11. Nutrients for Life Foundation offers From the Ground Up – The Science of Soil a website with activities for families and lesson plans for teachers.
  12. Soil Science Society of America – SSSA soil basics
  13. New Jersey Ag Society Teacher Toolbox
  14. Soil Texture Pyramid and Texture Calculator
  15. Soil Texture Ribbon Test 
  16. USDA NRCS On-the-Job Training Modules for those who want to dig a little deeper into understanding soils!
  17. Earthworms as soil quality indicators
  18. Nutrients for Life educational videos Nourishing the Planet in the 21st Century
  19. The Nature Conservancy On Solid Ground: Earth’s Soils Reveal Climate, Biodiversity and Food Security Solutions 
  20. Rutgers Agricultural Extension, Soil for Raised Beds – Fact Sheet

Find out more about healthy soil in the context of the Soil Health Improvement Project (SHiP) at Jake’s Branch County Park in Beachwood, NJ.

Press and Media! See soil in the news!

This amazing article, “Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People!”, shows the interconnections between soil health and human health!

Soil Health Fact Sheets

The NRCS has also published several different Soil Health Fact Sheets, each providing information for specific land uses.
The PDF for each is available below:

Posts From Our Blog About The Importance Of Soil Health

  • Soil Taxonomy – Classifying Soils

    Soil Taxonomy – Classifying Soils

    Did you know that soils are classified into taxonomic groups? The soil classification system is similar to the way that living organisms, including plants and animals, are classified into groups based on physical, chemical and morphological properties. Soil scientists classify soils into hierarchical taxonomic categories including order, suborder, great group, subgroup, family and series. The…

  • The Important Role of Soil Organisms in a Healthy Garden

    The Important Role of Soil Organisms in a Healthy Garden

    The vibrant community of soil organisms that live beneath our feet are the unsung heroes of our yards and gardens. Below the soil surface, a bustling community of soil organisms tirelessly works to maintain the vitality of the living landscape above. These tiny creatures, including bacteria, fungi, earthworms and insects, play a pivotal role in…

  • Jersey-Friendly Yards Conference 2023

    Jersey-Friendly Yards Conference 2023

    The 2023 Jersey-Friendly Yards Conference was on Saturday, September 30th. Ocean County Soil Conservation District is a proud partner of the Jersey-Friendly Yards initiative.

  • Selecting Appropriate Plant Species for Basin Retrofit Projects

    Selecting Appropriate Plant Species for Basin Retrofit Projects

    The Lakewood Township Stormwater Basin Retrofit Project had a productive 2023 spring seeding season. Five additional stormwater basin retrofit designs have been implemented throughout the municipality.

  • Digging Deeper: Downer Soil

    Digging Deeper: Downer Soil

    You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that New Jersey has a state soil, just as it has a state bird (American Goldfinch), a state flower (Purple Violet) and a state tree (Red Oak). Our state soil is called Downer.

  • Summer Blooming Perennials to Celebrate

    Summer Blooming Perennials to Celebrate

    Show your colors this Independence Day by adding some red, white and blue to your summer garden! American native plants support local bees, butterflies and birds by providing nectar, pollen, seeds and nesting materials.

  • Spring Blooming Natives for Your Garden

    Spring Blooming Natives for Your Garden

    Native plants are perfectly adapted to our sandy south Jersey native soils and local climate. Support pollinators, birds and wildlife by adding a few spring blooming native plants to your yard.

  • Rutgers Green Infrastructure Guidance Manual for New Jersey

    Rutgers Green Infrastructure Guidance Manual for New Jersey

    Prepared by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program, the Green Infrastructure Guidance Manual for New Jersey is intended to provide guidance for the identification, design and implementation of green infrastructure practices throughout New Jersey.