Many farmers worry about the changing weather patterns, water allocations, rising fertiliser and fuel costs, the world economy and markets and generally how its all going to effect them.
Farmers get very excited when they realise what they can control – THE SOIL – and that is what matters most!
Farmers can indeed control their soil. But how many farmers actually worry about what goes on under the ground? Most farmers seem to be more interested in what’s happening above the ground. They look at plant growth, plant and animal health, keep weather records and stock records, read about the market prices and wonder which new product will fix up the latest problem that has appeared on the farm.
Does this sound like you? Maybe a little bit as all these concerns have their place in farming. However when a farmer starts to turn his attention to THE SOIL some interesting and profitable benefits occur.
We’ve all heard the story about the goose that lays the golden eggs and how the greedy farmer killed the goose to get all his eggs at once. Result: No more golden eggs! Well, a healthy soil is just like the golden goose. It will support and sustain all farm life when it is properly nurtured. However many farmers want all their goodies at once and keep adding more and more products into the soil to get a bigger and better return. Result: The soil life disappears!
What Can You Do to Maintain a Healthy Soil?
• Don’t kill the golden goose with products that set back the soil life.
• In a healthy soil there are millions of microbes, thousands of earthworms and many other small organisms which all play a role in building a good structure for plant growth. This is commonly called the soil food web.
• You must know what each product that you apply to the soil does to the organisms in the soil food web.
• Find out what products feed the soil life and in what proportions are needed for the crops that you are growing.
• If you want a healthy productive soil you must know how to get that balance.
How do I know if my soil is healthy?
9 signs of a healthy soil which every farmer can easily observe:
It is friable and free from compaction. It holds more moisture in dry times. It has good rainfall penetration. It keeps increasing in depth. It enables plants to have deep, strong and dense roots which have a good rhizosphere. It supports healthy plant growth which resists disease and pest attack. It breaks down stubble and manures quickly and these are incorporated into the soil. It has plenty of earthworms. Lastly it smells good!
This subject is not to be treated lightly. Your biggest asset is your discovery of how you can best support the life in the soil and to gain knowledge on what makes a healthy soil. For the more you know how to support soil life rather than hamper or even destroy soil life the more successfully you will farm. And as we say “You’ll get more bang for your buck”