To improve soil health there are various conservation and preventive methods that you can perform. Once you have better soil health, you will be able to get a high yield and say goodbye to crop diseases.
About 95% of natural foods come from the soil. The nutrition and nourishment in our vegetables and fruits are dependent on soil health. During the last few decades, soil diversity has suffered tremendously due to industrialisation and urbanisation.
You would be glad to know that these adverse effects can be reversed. With the help of sustainable agricultural techniques, farmers can increase crop yield and food production each season.
By taking care of your soil, not only would you be able to improve crop yield but it would also offer positive effects to the entire pasture and its surrounding environment. We would help you reach your soil health goals this year with our sustainable farming hacks.
6 Tips to Improve Soil Health
No matter what the current condition of your soil is, if you apply these methods at the right time you can expect a transformation. Don’t expect to get your desired results overnight. Soil health takes time to improve, and it requires hard work. Keep on adding the organic matter before it is depleted in the soil. Here are six tips to help you improve your soil health.
1. Add Organic Matter to Improve Soil Structure
Organic soil matter comprises decomposed animal and plant matter. Depending upon the stages of decomposition, the soil gets nutrients out of these decaying substances. Having high levels of organic matter in soil is a goal that most farmers have in their minds. Many farms in Australia are facing a decline in organic matter due to which soil health is not up to the mark.
A healthy soil structure is made up of multiple layers of sand, silt, and clay particles. This structure not only is essential for water absorption but also supports the biology that thrives underground. Adding compost and manure is vital to have a stable soil structure throughout various seasons.
2. Tillage for Soil Aeration
Tillage systems are applied in farmlands and pastures to loosen the soil so that it becomes easier to plant the seeds. Once the earth is ready to be sown, various ingredients are added such as nitrogen, phosphorus and compost. Tilling is performed with the help of a farm cultivator with disc harrow that has a mechanism of cutting motion in its base.
A hard soil doesn’t retain any moisture that has a direct impact on plant growth and seed germination. However, by softening up the soil with the help of minimum tillage systems you can add air back into the ground. By moving O2 and CO2 through loose soil, you can improve the overall nutrient absorption of plants. Having airy soil is a dream for every farmer, and you can achieve that with the right tillage tools.
3. Protect Soil with Cover Crops
Healthy soil is not supposed to be visible, as it is fully covered from grass or plants. Plants are essential for soil aeration, as the roots systems hold together the underground soil structure. Plant abundance also facilitates the spread of fungal colonies within the soil.
Out of these plants that reduce soil erosion, cover crops play a key role in retaining soil density and structure. Not only would you have healthier farmland with cover crops but it also helps with biodiversity and carbon retention of native plants. On top of that, your wheat crops would also be at fewer chances of facing flood and drought when they get proper water and nutrient sources.
When it comes to a sustainable soil improvement program, cover crops play an important role. With their presence, the cover crops attract the right type of soil organisms that also release a considerable amount of organic matter. You can also improve drainage and nutrient absorption of your soil with cover crops.
Some common cover crop species are mentioned below:
- Daikon Radish
- Black-eyed peas
4. Plant More Trees on Farmland
By planting more trees on vulnerable portions of your farmland and pasture, you can improve soil health. Forests and trees not only provide oxygen to the environment but also create an ecosystem necessary for agricultural production.
Land with a high tree plantation is less susceptible to soil erosion and drought. Once the old roots of trees start going deeper into the ground, they improve the overall water retention of soil. It is always better to plant more trees in the rough patches of your farm.
With the increase in deforestation and land clearing all over the world, there has been a sharp decline in tree population. Due to the clearance of trees, it is more difficult to manage greenhouse gases in the environment. Additionally, the lack of trees also exposes the land to wind storms and health degradation in the long run.
5. Implement Crop Rotation Each Season
One of the greatest nightmares for your farmland is monocropping. On a mono-crop farm, the farmers grow the same species of the crop throughout the year with no diversity. Due to a lack of plant variety, your soil attracts more pests and diseases.
This is the reason crop rotation is the key for healthy soil, as you will be planting each crop sequentially based on the season. With more cycles of crop rotation, you will no more need pesticides and chemicals to ward off invading insects.
A variety of plants means that your soil would be able to distribute nutrients without being depleted at the end of the year. By planting diverse crop species, you will be able to make your soil more fertile and keep it well-nourished. Some rotation crops tend to increase soil compaction, while others increase soil stability.
For regenerative agriculture, you need to improve soil health before implementing any sustainable activities. Healthy soil is less susceptible to catching diseases, which would improve your crop yield in the long run.
Furthermore, healthier soil is more capable of preventing greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), from spreading in the environment. By keeping these harmful gases in check, not only can you improve your crop production but also contribute to a better climate.
To sum it all up, you need to work on your soil health for the sustainability and profitability of your farmland.