A Grass-Roots Movement For Healthy Soil Spreads Among Farmers

Author: Dan Charles | Published: April 9, 2018

In American farm country, a grass-roots movement is spreading, a movement to keep more roots in the soil. (Not just grass roots, of course; roots of all kinds.) Its goal: Promoting healthy soil that’s full of life.

I met three different farmers recently who are part of this movement in one way or another. Each of them took me to a field, dug up some dirt, and showed it off like a kind of hidden treasure.

“You can see how beautiful that soil [is],” said Deb Gangwish, in Shelton, Neb. “I’m not a soil scientist, but I love soil!”

“You can pick it up and it smells like dirt,” Bryce Irlbeck told me, as we stood in a field near Manning, Iowa. “You can go on a lot of arms in Iowa and the dirt doesn’t smell like dirt anymore.”

And in Pleasant Dale, Neb., Del Ficke was practically ecstatic. “Look at this! And the smell! It smells beautiful! It’s alive!”