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We examined our 28 sites which have the most variability in their soil health scores. We call these sites our “Swingers”, and they are evenly split between organic and conventional growing methods.
Over half the “Swinger” sites are pastures with the rest split evenly between home gardens and commercial vegetable sites. Their most common crop is grass hay with mixed vegetables coming in second. Their average water season is 127 days long. “Swinger” sites have an average soil health score of 27.6, which is very high, especially for Colorado. The growers of these “Swinger” sites are all Soiley Award winners or nominees. They have adopted many soil health practices, as you can see in the following graph.
The lesson here seems to be that no good deed goes unpunished. It seems that one result of adopting good soil health practices may be a great deal of variability in soil health lab results. If you see your Haney test results bouncing around a lot, year-to-year, it does not necessarily mean that you are doing anything wrong. It may mean that you are doing many things right! We will explore this hypothesis further in coming years as we gather more data.
Elizabeth Black is the producer of the Citizen Science Soil Health Project