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110717MightyMicrobe1540x800.jpg USDA NRCS

Mighty Mini Microbe's Tale aims to unlock soil secrets

Coloring book is part of soil health awareness and education campaign, "Unlock the Secrets in the Soil."

The creators of a new soil health-themed coloring book believe “Mighty Mini Microbe’s Tale” will encourage the next generation of farmers, conservationists and scientists to further unlock the secrets in the soil.

The 24-page coloring book is produced by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and is part of its on-going “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” soil health awareness and education campaign. It is illustrated by Cat Bailey, an NRCS public affairs specialist in Portland, Oregon.

“While the characters are fictional, there’s solid science behind the narrative,” said Ron Nichols, the book’s author and NRCS soil health campaign coordinator. “Many people don’t realize that the elegant symbiosis of life underground enables all life above ground.”

Nichols said the story not only highlights the role of soil microbes in our lives, but also the role of “farmer heroes,” who farm in ways that protect and improve soil microbial habitat.

“Farmers who implement soil health management systems on their farms are the other heroes in the story,” he said. “By using no-till, cover crops and diverse species and rotations, these producers are increasing the health and diversity of soil microbiological communities. In turn, these microbes provide nutrients, protect plants from pests and disease and improve soil aggregation and function – all of which make farming operations more productive, profitable and more resilient to weather extremes.”

The coloring book can be ordered or downloaded from the NRCS web site at


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