4 agronomic principles for healthy soil


Could improved soil health mean healthier foods? If the question is answered by supporters of environmentally responsible farming, the answer will be as follows.

One way environmentalists explain the importance of soil to pupils in the US is to ask, “What’s on pizza that isn’t made from soil?” The students soon realize that almost everything in pizza comes from soil, except for the anchovies.

Can we produce foods with a higher nutrient density while improving the health of our soil? It’s a question you can answer for yourself at your leisure, writes conservationist Don Donovan on behalf of the Indiana Conservation Partnership in an article on www.farmprogress.com.

Farmers are planting seeds in soils that have degraded over the past 75 years, largely due to extensive tillage and marginal monocropping.

Thanks to fertilizers, pesticides, and improved genetics, you get consistently high yields, but modern plants have lower nutrient densities than pre-modern agriculture crops. That is, there is a sufficient quantity, but the quality is very low.

When a person is sick, after that he goes through a short or long rehabilitation period, depending on the disease. The main human disease in the XX-XXI centuries considered chronic fatigue. The soil that feeds us incessantly is also tired, if not exhausted. The only solution is to switch back to organic farming. This is not only the application of organic fertilizer, but also other methods.

1. Increased variety. The combination of agricultural and cover crops helps maintain naturally normal soil biology. There are no monocultures in nature.

2. Living roots. The sun is the highest source of energy. Sowing should be carried out in warm soil. Each plant, vegetable or fruit tree has its own temperature for planting. For example: sowing potatoes, cabbage is carried out when the soil warms up above +5º, carrot tomatoes – +15º. The living root will help keep the soil microbiology healthy and productive.

3. Reduced processing. Extensive tillage is detrimental to soil health. Every time tillage implements are used, the biological community is turned upside down, pore channels collapse, and organic matter is lost due to carbon oxidation.

4. Permanent protection. Plant debris, mulch, or plant stems on the soil surface create a cover that is needed for more than just erosion protection. The residue also maintains stable conditions for microorganisms, isolating them from adverse influences. Soil microbes also live in plant residues on the surface, converting them into nutrients.

Soil is much more than just a medium for growing crops; it is a living biological ecosystem.