Our partners:

Western SARE

Mr. and Mrs.
Charles F. Walton

California Organic Fertilizers, IncSwift Subtropicals

Valent Biosciences


Soil Health Dimensions

A comprehensive online educational series on soil health


Soil interactions are complex, yet a basic knowledge of them can go a long way in keeping soils productive, profitable and protected in the long-term. This six-part series provides a comprehensive yet concise and easy-to-understand look at essential dynamics in living soil systems, drawing from the experience of a wide range of leading managers, researchers and consultants in this field. It is especially focused on how soil biology impacts soil quality, organic matter and nutrient cycling, and identifies new techniques for assessing soil health status. An inventory of helpful resources related to topics covered are provided on the webpage for each chapter.

Each chapter is approximately 30 minutes long. The series may be viewed in its entirety, or by topic of interest listed below. To learn more about the Soil Health Dimensions Project and how it came about, please go to the Project Page

Please click on the links below to start exploring each of the sections.

Chapter 1: Foundations of Soil Health
This introduction orients the viewers to the basic soil health concepts. It provides an overview of fundamental principles in soil science, concepts of soil quality, historical perspectives and the importance of using an ecosystem framework to understand soil health.

Chapter 2: Soil Biology
This section introduces the viewer to key groups of organisms active in soil systems. It explores their biology, environment and role in maintaining soil health. Basic soil foodweb relationships, interactions and processes are touched upon.

Chapter 3: Soil Organic Matter
Soil organic matter explored in this section refers primarily to the non-living biological components of soil, including both active and stable forms, and highlights the central role of carbon in soil systems. The evolving understanding of humic substances is discussed.

Chapter 4: Nutrient Cycles and Availability
This chapter explores basic processes in nutrient cycling, particularly the nitrogen cycle, and mineralization and immobilization. Key nutrients and their plant availability are considered. The importance of balanced nutrition is addressed.

Chapter 5: Nutrient Management
Basic considerations in nutrient budgeting are covered here and a framework for management, called '4R', is introduced. The special role of biology in mineralizing nutrients, and the importance of C:N ratios in nutrient availability is addressed, with examples.

Chapter 6: Assessing Soil Health
Knowing “who” is at work in a given soil, and the functions being performed by these soil actors can help assess soil health. New field and laboratory techniques are explored that shed light on soil communities and nutrient status, and that are being used to develop soil health indicators that can guide management decisions.


Thank You to Our Sponsors

We would like to extend special thanks to our official sponsors on the right.
Please find out more about them by clicking on their logos.

For more information, please contact the Center for Sustainability at (805) 756-5086 or cfs@calpoly.edu