Healthy soil is active, alive and continuously regenerating.
The soil and plant should be considered as one interconnected and interdependent living system. The better the soil, the better the plant. Improvement in soil health, plant health, quality and yield should cascade from year to year.
It all starts by improving and maintaining soil health. It is the firm foundation to produce more with less. Healthy soils produce healthy crops and reduce the reliance on excess tillage and fertilizer.
The following are common characteristics of healthy soil:
1. Drain and warm up quicker in the spring
2. Don’t crust after planting
3. Soak up heavy rains with little run-off
4. Store moisture for dry spells
5. Resist erosion and nutrient loss
6. Support teeming microbial populations
7. Doesn’t require ever-increasing fertilizer rates to maintain good yields
8. Produce healthy, high quality crops
9. Soft soil shows foot print when walked on
10. Soil is aggregated like coffee grounds
11. Lots of earthworm holes and castings
12. Provides high energy (ERG’s) during seed fill
The following are the steps and sequence necessary to improve soil health, year to year consistency, water quality and profitability:
1. Build and maintain soil bioactive carbon (humus)
2. Remineralize soil
3. Build and maintain biodiversity
4. Reduce toxicity in the system
Doing these steps will result in nutrient retention, cycling, balance and plant availability.
“If you want to make money, you must mimic Mother Nature.”
The following are basic principles that need to be implemented to build and maintain healthy soils and renewable farming systems:
• Use plant diversity to increase soil organic matter and biodiversity in the soil.
• Manage soils by disturbing them less.
• Keep plants growing as much as possible throughout the year to feed the soil.
• Keep the soil covered as much as possible.