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Colorado Soil Health Primer Resources

Welcome to Acres U.S.A.’s STAR program educational page, featuring a set of primers specifically designed for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Along with our partners at Colorado State University, we have put together these fundamentals in order to create a common language and educational base for the state STAR program (Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources). 

Colorado Soil Health Fundamentals cover with Acres USA and Colorado Department of Agriculture. Features 4 photos in a square: corn field, bison on the prairie, a little boy near tractors, and cows in front of mountains.

STAR uses a five-star rating system that allows farmers and ranchers to evaluate their current production system, identify areas for improvement, document their progress, and share their successes. The evaluation system assigns points for management activities on an annual basis and scores are converted to a 1 to 5 STAR Rating, with 5 STARs indicating the most ambitious commitment to a suite of practices proven to improve soil health, water quality and water availability. In Colorado, as of 2022, STAR evaluates 11 different cropping systems and grazing lands for soil health. Any Colorado farmer and rancher can fill out a STAR field form on CDA’s website to receive a STAR Rating and a free soil health test.

The STAR program’s financial incentives help farmers and ranchers absorb some of the risk of incorporating stewardship practices into their work.

Learn More

Learn more at the Colorado Soil Health Program home page.

View photos and read the write-up from the first Colorado STAR event, held in Monte Vista, CO, on Aug. 13, 2022.

View photos and read the write-up from the second Colorado STAR event, held in Rocky FOrd, CO, on Feb. 24, 2023.

Sign up for weekly email newsletters dedicated to educators of Soil Health here.

Acres U.S.A., the voice of Eco-Agriculture, is available to support your educational program. Reach out to us at info@acresusa.com to learn more.

Connect with the Community

Have questions, thoughts or comments? Utilize the comment feature at the bottom of this page to discuss aspects of soil health with the community.

Primer 1: The Basics

The basics and common terms involved in Colorado’s soil health program.


Primer 2: Drought Mitigation

What soil health management tactics can help you store more water naturally.


Primer 3: Cover Cropping

The types of cover crops that can work in Colorado and why.


Primer 4: Beyond N-P-K

Read about the jobs of macro- and micro-nutrients in the soil and plant.


Primer 5: Soil Biology & Fungal Networks

How biology and fungal networks can help take care of your crop.


Primer 6: Tillage / No-Tillage

Different opinions on how tillage can affect your soil health management.


Primer 7: Insect & Weed Protection

Natural methods of fighting pests and attracting benefits within your system.


Primer 8: Livestock Integration

Systems for integrating the most common types of livestock.


Primer 9: Grasses, Pastures & Forages

How Colorado’s pastures are supporting soil management goals.


Primer 10: Commodity Crops

How corn, soybean and wheat growers are benefitting from soil health.


Primer 11: Perennial Plants

Tactics for soil health involving perennials that grow fruits, nuts and vegetables.


Primer 12: Market Signals

Organic certification and ideas for marketing and selling soil health to consumers.


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