Soil is the basic ingredient that is necessary to produce crops in farming. Much like your car needs fuel to run, farming needs healthy soil to produce crops. Soil is an important resource and is the foundation for all life on Earth.

Healthy soil equals productive land and organic matter is the key to productive soil. Organic matter is the part of soil derived from various stages of the decomposition of plants and animals. It is important for soil structure, tilth and provides energy for microorganisms, improves water infiltration, increases water-holding capacity and reduces erosion.

In South Dakota, scientists estimate that it takes 500 years to form one inch of topsoil. Over 650 different soil types have been identified in South Dakota.

Houdek (pronounced hoo-deck) is the state soil of South Dakota. This type of soil is not found in any other state. Houdek and closely related soils can be found on more than two million acres across South Dakota.

The Houdek soil series consists of very deep, well drained soils. Houdek soils are typically found on level to gently rolling land. Areas with Houdek soils are cultivated and most often used in crop production. Common crops grown on this soil include corn, small grain, alfalfa, and feed grains.

Farmers use conservation practices in order to protect and improve the quality of the soil and increase the crop yields.

Soil Concerns

Soil Erosion

  • Classic or Ephemeral Gully Erosion
  • Sheet and Rill Erosion
  • Streambank or Shoreline Erosion
  • Wind Erosion

Soil Quality Degradation

  • Compaction
  • Concentration of Salts or Other Chemicals
  • Organic Matter Depletion
South Dakota Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service