Farmer Perception of Soil Health Testing

The link between soil testing and farmer management decisions is poorly understood. Farmers are advised to have their soil tested but many do not know how to interpret the results, further still, how to apply the results to management decisions. Dr. Sprunger has participated in several interdisciplinary teams that have examined farmer perceptions of soil health testing and its influence, or lack thereof, on farm management decisions.

 

In a recent collaborative study, she combined currently used soil health testing methods used by farmers in the United States with in-depth farmer interviews related to soil health and found that the principal soil carbon indicator used by farmers did not agree with what farmers' perceived to be a good indicator of soil health on their farms.

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A better effort to arm farmers with basic soil health knowledge, paired with accessible and cost-effective options for soil testing, could aid farmers in making better informed decisions and could lead to wider adoption of sustainable management practices.