Soil Education Network


When we think of health most of us think of human health. The idea that soil can be healthy may sound odd at first--after all, isn't it just dirt--until we begin to understand that soil is a result of complex relationships and interactions between living and non-living things.

We consider soil healthy when the non-living parts are in good working order (like having good structure) and the living parts have access to the right kinds of food and water, and the parts that were formerly living and now are not living (called organic matter) are present and plentiful. When conditions are otherwise, soil starts to become unhealthy.

Science tells us that healthy soils are

  • Full of life

  • High in organic matter

  • Well structured

  • Covered all the time

The US Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service recognizes the importance of healthy soil for current and future generations. Soil health is a particularly important issue in an agricultural state like South Dakota. This set of curricular resources was developed to teach educators about soils and soil health while meeting South Dakota content standards.

Soil makes a compelling learning phenomena because soil is everywhere, all students have some experience with it, and it offers many surprises and mysteries. Where possible, a South Dakota connection was made with the learning.

Curricular resources about soil health are now available for kindergarten through high school. Please complete this form to be notified about opportunities for teacher workshops.

Questions? Please contact Anne Lewis

Voices for Soil Health

The Soil Health Primer is now available!

Learn the essentials of soil and soil health through these 11 modules. Covering everything from how soil is made to the soil health principles, the Primer establishes a baseline of essential knowledge and understanding for producers, educators, and curious community members.

The module sections take about 15-20 minutes to complete and each has a check for understanding quiz at the end (ungraded). Brush up on your knowledge or learn something new!

Access the Soil Health Primer page.