Soil health is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.

Viewing soil as a living ecosystem reflects a fundamental shift in the way we care for New Mexico’s working lands. Rather than treating soil as an inert growing medium, we need to foster the living organisms in the soil and consider their basic necessities – food, shelter, and water. Healthy soil is teaming with billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that are engaged in the cycling of essential nutrients and even communicate with plants through their root systems. Maintaining this intricate relationship is critical for the wellbeing of all life on earth.

What is the intent of the NM Healthy Soil program?

Soil stewardship boosts the health of our working lands while producing a wide range of economic, ecological and social co-benefits for all New Mexicans. Healthy soils have a much greater ability to absorb and hold water, which cuts down on evaporation and creates resilience to drought and extreme weather events. With soil microbes providing nourishment for plants instead of synthetic fertilizers, nutrient density in foods is increased which improves public health. A diverse microbial community guards crops against pests and disease, reducing the need for expensive chemicals. This is good for producers’ bottom line and at the same time helps lessen pollution, leading to improved watersheds and water quality. Healthy soils also foster biodiversity, enhanced wildlife and pollinator habitat and absorb atmospheric carbon. With all these benefits in mind, the overarching goal of the program is to help farming communities prosper while restoring ecological health.