One of the most recent buzz phrases going around agriculture is the term “soil health.” Many involved in agriculture, from input suppliers and equipment companies to media and educators, soil health, has become the new “cu degras” or the pinnacle of accomplishment for agriculture to now consider. Almost appearing as a new discovery, there is much more focus being placed on soil health as the new key to unlocking the power of the soil. However, the study and application of methods to improve soil health is nothing new. Some of the techniques used in enhancing soil health have improved, but the idea is still the same.
What Does Soil Health Management Involve?
Soil health management is much more of a holistic approach to improving soils, for not only producing more food to feed and ever increasing world population but an effort to preserve our soils for future generations to utilize. There are three different aspects of soil health that must be considered when studying and developing practices for improvement. These work hand in hand which determines a soil to be healthy or unhealthy.
Characteristics Found in Soil
CHEMICAL. Chemical characteristics are responsible for the most money and effort spent for the last half century. These chemical characteristics are the nutrients that are in or added to the soil. And digested to make fertility elements available to feed crops the food they need to produce what they produce. Elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, boron and others may be added to the soil to enhance the concentration of plant food for the best production. Soil sampling is completed to determine the concentration of these elements to provide nutrition to plants.
PHYSICAL. The second characteristic of soil is the physical structure. This characteristic refers to the composition of sand, silt and clay in soil with water and air. Crops require water and air to grow properly mixed with the composition of the soil itself. Equipment companies have developed countless machines to give farmers the ability to hopefully improve physical characteristics. Tools such as these, determine if the soil has the preferred amount of water and air holding capacity with proper soil particle size to allow crops to grow unimpeded. Many strive to use no tillage at all that can be a great benefit for air and water holding capacity.
BIOLOGICAL. The last and most overlooked characteristic of the soil is the biological characteristic of soil. This is considered the new frontier of soil study and with good reason. The biology of the soil is the living micro-organisms in the soil that drive the system of crop production. It can be said that the “critters eat first.” The biological characteristics of the soil work in the physical portion of the soil to make the chemical portion work as it will.
Only within recent years have processes been developed to measure the biological life of the soil so that practices can be used to create a greater biological environment. Before the advent of commercial fertilizers and great tools, the farmer could only do things to enhance the biology of the soil for crop production through crop rotation and fallow management. After a half century of progress, we are taking a more concentrated look at the biology of soil.
Start Improving Your Soil Health Today
Soil health management looks at these characteristics as a working symbiotic system that needs each other to produce crops to the highest potential. With the help and expertise of SoilRight’s soil management services, you can transform your business, enhance yields, and increase profits. Learn how to today: