Your soil is the foundation for everything that happens on your farm. It is the number one ingredient for high yields. A true farmer thinks of his soil first and works to improve it. If you are just planting seeds, applying a little fertilizer, and harvesting a crop, you are not a farmer, you’re a miner.
Before I get into it, let me say we are not eco-nuts. However you need to understand that proper soil fertility leads to improved yields, healthier crops and livestock, lower input costs, and higher per acre income. Even if lack of moisture is your biggest limiting factor!
What is the cost of not properly maintaining soil quality?
Soil should act as a sponge that holds and gradually release water back to the plant. If it is ponding, running off, or out a drainage tile, it is taking valuable nutrients with it. Having a quality soil that is soft, increases infiltration and decreases loss of water and nutrients.
Average cropland erosion removes soil about 10 to 100 times faster than it forms.
Land degradation and desertification may account for as much as about 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gas releases, according to researcher Rattan Lal of Ohio State University. A quality soil will raise higher yields resulting in more carbon being stored in the soil as organic matter (OM). During the growing season the soil can release CO2 slowly resulting in higher yields and increasing OM. Low quality soils produced lower yields, resulting in decreasing OM, releasing more gasses to the atmosphere.
Currently US farmers are feeding more than 150 people. However at the current world population growth rate they will need to produce more food within the next 50 years than during the last 10,000 years combined! Genetic engineering will help, but if we do not have quality soils left to plant them in, they will not yield their full potential.
The book ""The Erosion of Civilization"" by David R. Montgomery, sums it up best. farming was the foundation of the great flourishing of Mesopotamia, but it faced two great problems: salinisation from irrigation, and soil erosion. Such erosion was also a problem in Bronze Age and classical Greece. Montgomery quotes Plato on the region around Athens: "The rich, soft soil has all run away leaving the land nothing but skin and bone."
Protect your biggest investment, protect yourself from future government regulation, protect your source of income, take care of your soil first!
The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!