The crop quality is highly dependent on the soil health condition. If it functions as a healthy ecosystem, it provides the necessary resources for the local flora and fauna. It is not easy to restore soil fertility to the proper level — it takes a long time, so it is much more effective to maintain the required level regularly. Five principles can help you do it. They are “designed” by nature itself, and therefore are universal and suitable for any condition.
Soil armor is a cover of plant debris that remains on the ground. It provides a variety of benefits:
- erosion protection;
- maintaining the ground temperature;
- building soil structure;
- water resources management;
- suppression of weed growth;
- increasing the level of nutrients in the soil.
For greater efficiency, you should monitor the armor composition. In particular, the correct ratio of carbon to nitrogen will ensure the right canopy decomposition rate.
As a result of intensive cultivation, the land is disturbed. It can be expressed in wind and water erosion and disruption of the water balance in the soil. Moreover, prolonged tillage depletes nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. It contributes to land compaction and degradation.
No-tillage is an essential step in solving this problem, as minimizing soil damage helps the formation of aggregates and glomalin (soil “glue”). After all, it contributes to long-term field productivity.
A variety of plants, combined in one field at different times of the year, can improve land productivity. Crop rotation plays a vital role in it. With its help, it is possible to simulate the natural diversity of the soil throughout the year. Four types of crops are suitable for this technology:
- warm-season broadleaf;
- warm-season grass;
- cool-season broadleaf;
- cool-season grass.
By combining these types of plants, you can create a sustainable agricultural system and ensure food security.
Cover plants adapt perfectly to weather conditions so farmers can plant them during the cold season. Thus, with their help, you can saturate the soil health h with nutrients during the dormant period. Besides, they solve other problems, such as controlling the salt balance and suppressing weeds. Crops that produce a lot of carbon material protect the land from erosion and are better suited for crop rotation.
Animals, plants, and soils have always been part of a single ecosystem. Animals convert high-carbon material into low-carbon material that feeds the land’s food web. Recently, due to being kept in captivity, animals have been much less involved in this process. But if we change the situation, we will receive significant benefits:
- balance of carbon and nitrogen;
- decreased exports of nutrients;
- better regrowth.
Of course, such a system is also beneficial for livestock. In particular, it reduces the amount of waste of livestock in isolation and increases its nutritious diet. Thus, the integration of animals into the agricultural process contributes to solving a whole range of problems.
Of course, successful farmers are well aware of the conditions in which they work. Applying an individual approach, they optimize the agricultural process as much as possible while maintaining soil health.
Thus, modern technologies allow you to preserve field quality in different ways. However, the most effective is an integrated approach, which is based on the characteristics of a particular farm.