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Online Resources


Check out our publications available for download.

Natural Resources in Alameda County

There are many ways to find out more about the natural resources of Alameda County. You can go on a hike, help native plants and animals in your own backyard with our Backyard Conservation tips, volunteer for a creek cleanup, take a botany class, or check out some websites we think are exciting and informative.

Learn about Local Creeks

Learn about what a watershed is and how to keep your local creek healthy!

Soil Information

  Bioengineering Techniques

Soil bioengineering is the use of living plant materials as the primary structural component to reinforce soil and stabilize slopes. The goal of soil bioengineering is the re-establishment of a balanced, living, native community capable of self-repair as it adapts to the land's stresses and requirements.

NRCS Soil Health Update - May 2014

Water in the bank: Cover crops and moisture. No cropping system is drought proof, but there are things that farmers can do to mitigate the effects of a dry year. North Carolina State University’s Dr. Chris Reberg-Horton discusses how cover crops affect water dynamics through the life-cycle of the cash crop in this installment of NRCS’ “The Science of Soil Health” video series.  Watch the 3-minute video.

En Español:  Descubre los Secretos del suelo. A new Spanish-language video, produced by NRCS in Missouri, describes the basics and benefits of soil health and outlines the four basic principles needed to improve soil health. Click here to watch the 4-minute video. Need more soil health information in Spanish? Click here to view NRCS’ Spanish-language soil health publications.

Let it rain: The hydrologic benefits of soil health. One of the marks of a healthy soil is good hydrologic function, but what does that look like? With the help of a rainfall simulator, film maker and researcher Buz Kloot joins NRCS’ J.B. Daniel on a farm in Virginia to learn first-hand the infiltration benefits of good soil health in this installment of NRCS’ “The Science of Soil Health” video series.Watch the video: The Science of Soil Health: Simulating Rainfall on Pastures

Soil health video profile: Dexter Gilbert, Jackson County, Florida. Dexter Gilbert, who farms some 2,500 acres in Jackson County, Florida, says the combination of conservation tillage and cover crops has helped reduce input costs while improving his cotton, peanut and corn yields. He’s seeing more organic matter in the soil and he’s also happy with his soil’s pH levels.

Profile in soil health: Montana producer promotes change for soil health. Watch the 2-minute video. Twenty miles straight west of the Montana/South Dakota border lies the Sikorski ranch and farm in Ekalaka, Montana. Jerry Sikorski’s grandfather homesteaded there in 1911, and the tradition has continued for over a century. But not exactly. Sikorski is anything but old-fashioned, and the tradition of tilling and fallow farming ended in the mid-90s on the 102-year-old homestead. Read more in this NRCS “Profile in Soil Health.”

Unlock the Secrets in the Soil featured web resource: “Healthy Soils Are…” features

This series of one-page (front/back) fact sheets examine the major characteristics of healthy soil. In these fact sheets you’ll learn that Healthy Soils Are…

            · Full of Life

            · High in Organic Matter

            · Covered all the Time

            · Well Structured

Extra: A series of 14 newsletter length articles, based on the four topic areas above, are available royalty-free for partner organizations to use in helping their members understand the basics and benefits of soil health. Click here to download and use the articles.

Washington Post: How soil scientists can top up a wine. Claude Bourguignon and his wife, Lydia, are among the world’s most famous “soil doctors,” specialists in helping nurture soil to produce healthier crops. While other soil scientists visit have visited his farm, Ed Boyce, said most focus on the chemical composition of the soil. “The Bourguignons focus on the microbiology and water management, and to our way of thinking, those are the most important aspects of vineyard soil,” he said. Read more in this Washington Post story by Dave McIntyre.

Dakota Farmer: Prescription for soil health. Mark Weinheimer farms about 2,500 acres in central South Dakota and he’s banking on soil health to reduce input costs and increase crop yields. Though he doesn’t have cattle, he’s recently fenced off 75 acres and created four paddocks for grazing, renting out the land to a neighhbor.  “I am comparing how quick we can build back organic matter in that system compared to the cropping system,” he says. Weinheimer is also experimenting with pollinator and insect habitat. Read more in this Dakota Farmer story by Lon Tonneson.

AG WEB: A look at farming’s demands and rewards. As the grandson of multibillionaire Warren Buffet, Howard W. Buffet could have designed any legacy he dreamed, writes Farm Journal’s Benn Potter. He chose farming. "It’s hard work, but it’s not hard to understand how important that hard work is," he says. Buffett recently made a video as he readied his operation for planting season on his 400-acre no-till farm near Tekamah, Nebraska. In the video, he describes the importance of no-till, cover crops and other practices he’s putting to use on his farm. Click here to read the story and to see the video.

Good Fruit Grower: A greater focus on the soil can help improve orchard performance. When Mike Omeg joined his parents on the family orchard in The Dalles, Oregon, it struck him that a tremendous amount of emphasis was being placed on managing tree canopies, but much less on what was ­happening below ground. Read more in this story by Geraldine Warner of Good Fruit Grower magazine.

Farm Progress: 5 ways to start boosting soil health now. You don't have to wait years to make a difference. There are five things you can now to boost soil health, say Nathan Mueller and Anthony Bly, South Dakota State University Extension agronomists and field soil specialists. Way number 1 — grow more roots, writes Lon Tonneson in this Farm Progress story. Extra: See soil changes: Believe in Soil Health. Read more.

Iowa Learning Farms: Cover crop, corn/soybean yield study results released. Cereal rye cover crops added to a corn-soybean rotation seem to have little effect on yield, according to a five-year study conducted by Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa. Ten Iowa farmers have devoted part of their acres to conduct the study. Click here to view the four-page summary of the study.

AgriPulse: Soil health renaissance, part 1. Former NRCS Chief Bruce Knight observes that “we’re definitely seeing a movement underway in our nation to raise awareness about the importance of soil health.” Knight discusses his affiliation with The Soil Renaissance, an initiative of the Farm Foundation, NFP and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, to develop a cohesive and comprehensive approach to soil health. Read more

Modern Farmer: Microbes will feed the world, or why real farmers grow soil, not crops. The American Society of Microbiologists (ASM) recently released a treasure trove of their latest research and is eager to get it into the hands of farmers. Acknowledging that farmers will need to produce 70 to 100 percent more food to feed the projected 9 billion humans that will inhabit the earth by 2050, they remain refreshingly optimistic in their work. Read more in this Modern Farmer story by Brian Barth.

AgriNews: Soil health movement restoring agriculture. Farmers have started a soil health movement that NRCS’ Ray “The Soil Guy” Archuleta sees as the solution to energy, climate, air and water quality and human health issues. "Farmers are learning to farm in nature's image, and they are healing the land," says Archuleta. Read more in this AgriNews story by Jean Caspers-Simmet.