The Ohio Soil Health Card evaluates a soil’s health or quality as a function of soil, water, plant, and other biological properties identified by farmers. This Card was developed for farmers by farmers with assistance from Ohio State University Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). The Card is a tool to help you monitor and improve soil health based on your own field experience and a working knowledge of your soils. Regular use will allow you to record long-term trends and changes in soil health and to compare the effects of different soil management practices. This Card is most effective when filled out consistently by the same person over time. It provides a qualitative assessment of soil health, evaluation ratings do not represent an absolute measure or value. The purpose is not to measure one soil type against another, but rather to use indicators that assess each soil’s ability to function within its capabilities and site limitations.
In crop production, plants synthesize nutrients in the soil such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium with air, sunlight, and water. Without proper management, continuous crop production can reduce nutrient reserves in the soil and over time this reduction can limit productivity and yield, and lead to soil degradation. Techniques to conserve and add nutrients to the soil through the application of organic and inorganic fertilizers can help to maintain and increase the nutrient reserves of the soil. However, an oversupply of nutrients can also be a problem causing production inefficiency, pollution and potential damage to plants themselves. Achieving a balance between the nutrient requirements of plant populations and the nutrients available in soils is essential for maintaining high levels of productivity and soil fertility. In many cases, imbalances can be corrected through soil testing and integrated fertilizer application.