Farms that are profitable, productive, and environmentally sustainable depend on healthy soil as their foundational necessity.
Developing a soil management system that enhances and improves soil health over time requires dedicated time and effort. This will help to understand the various soil processes that influence crop growth and the techniques and practices that impact them.
Continual improvement of soil is crucial to cultivating strong, thriving plants that are resistant to pests and diseases and yield bountiful harvests. Regardless of whether you begin with farming in your local topsoil, maintaining healthy soil is an ongoing task.
A healthy farm soil comprises components like mineral particles, water, organic matter, air, and microorganisms. The interplay and balance of these constituents are important in maintaining soil health for flourishing crop growth.
Similar to other living organisms, soil requires nourishment to create a fertile environment that promotes healthy farm growth.
While some farmers may be fortunate to possess top-quality soil that meets their needs, they may encounter challenges at times.
Ultimately, a farm’s prosperity depends on the quality of its soil, and this is where farming can become more complex than expected.
So, how can farmland soil quality be improved? First and foremost, it’s important to recognise that organic matter is the key to healthy soil.
Learn: How to prepare seedbed?
Understanding Organic Matter: What is it?
Organic matter refers to material that contains carbon compounds produced by living organisms, such as plant debris, shredded leaves, animal manure, moss, algae, sawdust, lichens, earthworms, microbes and so on.
Role of Organic Matter in Soil Health
Organic matter is crucial for supplying crops with nutrients, enhancing soil structure, reducing the impact of pollutants, and helping with soil buffering.
The breakdown of organic matter by soil organisms results in the formation of humus, which is a nutrient-rich substance. These organisms also create tunnels and pockets in the soil by consuming the matter, making it less dense and enabling air and water to penetrate the roots.
When heavy clay dominates soil, it can easily become compact, retain too much water, and hinder the flow of air, water, and nutrients to the roots. However, incorporating organic matter into the clay soil can enhance its structure by promoting better drainage and making it more conducive for plant roots to thrive.
When soil is light and sandy, it tends to drain rapidly, which can hinder the nourishment of crop roots. However, introducing organic matter to a sandy soil can enhance its cohesion and increase its capacity to retain moisture and nutrients.
The primary purpose of the following information is to educate farmers and agriculture enthusiasts who are keen to acquire knowledge about ways to improve soil productivity.
Ways to Increase Soil Health
Assessing Your Soil’s Well-being using a Soil Testing Kit
It is recommended to perform a soil test every few years to identify the required nutrients that can aid in the development and production of plants.
Conducting a standard soil test provides information regarding the levels of potassium (K), phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulphur (S), and soil pH. Moreover, the test also reveals the organic matter content, lead concentration, and recommendations to adjust these values.
After identifying the nutrient deficiencies in your soil, you can supplement it with organic amendments to increase nutrient levels. Following are the soil meals that help to improve soil productivity.
- Blood Meal:
Made from dried animal blood, high in nitrogen.
- Alfalfa Meal:
Made from dried and ground alfalfa plants, a source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Bone Meal:
Made from ground bones, a source of phosphorus and calcium.
- Cottonseed Meal:
Made from ground cotton seeds, a source of nitrogen and phosphorus.
Covering the Soil Surface with Mulch
Mulch can improve soil quality in several ways:
- Mulch serves as a protective barrier that reduces the rate of evaporation, thus enabling the soil to retain moisture for extended periods.
- By blocking sunlight, mulch can hinder weed germination, thus acting as a natural weed suppressant.
If you are looking for tillage equipment for weed control, Kelly Tillage CL1 Disc Chain is the ideal choice. Our equipment help farmers to achieve a perfect seedbed by leveling the soil while maintaining soil health and moisture.
- It safeguards the soil from rain and wind impact, preventing soil erosion.
- Moreover, organic mulches, like leaves, straw, and grass clippings, gradually decompose, enriching the soil with organic matter. This, in turn, improves soil structure, enhances water retention capacity, and promotes nutrient availability.
- Mulch helps regulate soil temperature by providing insulation, keeping the soil cool during hot summers and warm during cold winters.
Allow Soil to Dry Completely Before Planting
To ensure that your soil is sufficiently dry before planting another crop, you can follow these steps:
- Do you want to determine if the soil is dry enough for planting? Take a handful of soil and squeeze it firmly. If water seeps out, it’s a sign that the soil is still too wet and unsuitable for planting.
- If the soil is still wet after testing, it is recommended to wait for a week or two before attempting to plant again. This waiting period will allow the excess moisture to evaporate naturally, and the soil to dry out to an appropriate level for planting.
Reprocessing Plant Scraps
A great way to enrich the soil with essential nutrients is to recycle plant scraps by using them as mulch on your farm. This includes leaves and other remnants from your farmland, which serve as an excellent source of organic matter to improve soil quality and productivity.
Boost Your Soil Health: Adding Compost for Nutrient-Rich Soil
Composting organic matter is an excellent way to enhance the quality of farm soil. When incorporated into the soil, compost enriches it by providing essential nutrients, increasing nutrient retention, promoting effective drainage, maintaining optimal aeration, and stabilizing soil pH.
Understanding the importance of minimizing soil disturbance is necessary. It’s clear that unnecessary digging disrupts soil life, impairs drainage and aeration, and disturbs sleeping weed seeds, ultimately leading to poor soil health.
Drawing the Curtain: Finalizing with Flair
To sum up, by soil improvement practices like composting, minimizing soil disturbance, and utilizing mulch, it is possible to significantly improve soil quality, support healthy crop growth, and promote sustainable agriculture for a healthier planet.
Approach Kelly Tillage to gain soil-related benefits. We will help you thoroughly to improve your farm’s soil quality and health. You don’t need to worry about your soil anymore, Kelly Tillage will take over this responsibility.