How Soil Health, Soil Biology and Cover Crops All Tie-in Together
A successful harvest hinges on many factors, one of them being soil health. Soil performs other essential functions other than sustaining plant and animal life. As such, it is important to understand its intricacies in order to ensure a harvest with better yields and profits. Getting to this point requires an understanding of soil biology, which then helps towards planting the right cover crops to keep soil healthy and sustainable for the future.
Let's break it down.
Crops need soil to be healthy to ensure a bountiful harvest. However, the importance of soil health isn't solely restricted to planting and harvesting; it must also concern sustainability for future generations.
One of the most important needs of a population to survive is food. Plants are a major food source, and they need healthy soil for a successful harvest. However, it's not just plants that rely on soil; animals depend on it too which makes it all the more important to ensure its quality.
There are living organisms in soil, and they have an effect on agricultural productivity, as well as air and water quality. The creatures found in soil range from not-visible-to-the-naked-eye (algae, bacteria, fungi, protozoa) to slightly visible (micro-arthropods, nematodes) to very visible (earthworms, insects, small vertebrates, plants).
All of the organisms mentioned go through a process of eating, growing, and moving through the soil. They interact with each other by producing and consuming – all of which help soil become much healthier and ready for crops.
The word “cover” before crops give you a good idea of what this plant life does. Essentially, it acts as a “cover” for the soil when you don't have anything to plant. Like any organism in the soil, it goes through a process that improves soil for its next use.
Planting cover crops reduces erosion, improves soil quality, increases the amount of organic matter in soil, recycles nutrients, controls weeds, and suppresses pests. All of these ultimately lead to an increase in crop yields over a long period.
To be effective, a cropping system must be in place. This includes nutrient management, pest management, and crop rotation, among others.
Some of the commonly used cover crops include black oat, cereal rye, crimson clover, cowpea, oilseed radish, pea, sorghum, and sunn hemp.
Tying it All Together
Getting a substantial yield during harvest time helps earn a profit. However, that won't be possible if you don't consider soil health; unhealthy soil won't lead to desired results. In order to provide for soil's needs, it's important to have a good grasp of soil biology, which provides an understanding of all the living creatures found in soil.
Cover crops are one kind of plant life that can be grown on soil that isn't used for harvest. Doing so ensures the soil remains healthy for the next planting season all the way to harvest time.
A successful harvest is an achievable goal but getting there means understanding the soil and the creatures living within it.
Precision Agronomics is located at 9438 West SR 28 in West Lebanon, IN and is proud to serve: Marshfield, Johnsonville, Foster, Stone Bluff, Bismarck, and the surrounding areas. Contact us today for more information!