Soil health is the cornerstone of balanced crop nutrition. Up to 60% of yield is dependent on soil fertility. Setting the foundation for healthy soils provides greater crop productivity and sustains the land for generations to come. By managing soils differently than what has been done in the past, value can be added to not just a single growing season or field, but impact long-term soil health, allowing for higher yields year after year. This can be done through soil replenishment, nutrient efficiency and sustainability practices.
Nurture the soil, nourish the crops
Advancing a crop nutrition program for higher yields necessitates feeding the soil that feeds the plant. This starts with understanding how nutrients interact with each other and their movement within the soil and plant. By understanding exactly which nutrients are needed for optimum growth and healthy soils, growers can create a sustainable production system for future generations.
The value of organic matter in Soil Health
Soil is composed of air, mineral, water and organic matter, which work together to dictate the richness of a soil’s profile.
Organic matter plays a significant role in soil health. It’s the fraction of the soil that includes plant, animal and microbial residues in various stages of decomposition, biomass of soil microorganisms and substances produced by plant roots and other soil organisms.
Increasing levels of organic matter aids in soil structure, water-holding capacity, nutrient mineralization, biological activity, and water and air infiltration rates. Co-locating organic matter near applied nutrients helps to simultaneously nourish the plant roots and soil microbes, resulting in improved nutrient uptake and yield.
Building up and maintaining healthy soil can aid in higher yields and shape crop resiliency to environmental stresses. Healthy soil also has strong water retention capacity. According to the USDA and NRCS, every 1% increase in organic matter can result in as much as 25,000 gallons of available soil water per acre.
Maintaining the health of soils produces more organic matter, which provides a stronger foundation for healthy crops.
Supporting long-term Soil Health
It is important to continually monitor soil nutrient levels and replenish them to account for the nutrient removal of each crop. Aim to deliver the right balance of nutrients and the right material consistency to maximize soil health.
Feeding the soil microbes to stimulate soil microbial activity at the same time as nourishing plants efficiently improves soil health.
Further, by advancing sustainable growing practices beyond reduced tillage and cover crops, it helps growers sustainably protect the land for future generations.
The future of Soil Health
Mosaic is committed to helping the agriculture industry drive soil health forward. By implementing sustainable practices on the farm now, there is greater opportunity to ensure environmental stewardship for the future while continuing to achieve greater yields and profitability.