Soil Microbiology is a trending topic in the agricultural world. It is a study of micro-organism existent in the soil that helps define the functioning of the soil. At Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario annual conference last week in London, Ont. Kansas farmer Michael Thompson urged farmers to nurse the soil from an ecological and biological perspective rather than just a chemistry set. Moreover, he believes that though the farmers are using nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to increase the crop yield rate, he insists on taking more biology inputs for quality purposes i.e. to improve the crop biologically like healthier soils and greater nutritional value.
He further shared his experience of regenerating the dry soil and depleted soils by utilizing the carbon feed. He further deep dives into various methods he is been using to make his farmland more anti- drought. He says, “If we can get carbon in the system, we can feed that biology and it can make for a more healthy plant that will get us through drier and wetter times.”
He describes the types of measures he takes to make recreate the dead soil and protect it. Five Soil Health management principles that his soil thrives on are:-
- Maintaining Soil Cover
Covering the soil is an age-old method to preserve it from weed growth. It is also useful for moisture conservation, temperature reduction, and precipitation of raindrops in a calculated manner. It is done by allowing the crop residue to decompose in soil to gain its nutritional value back.
- Minimizing Disturbance
The undisturbed soil benefits help the soil microbes to thrive maintaining their habitat. The various factors which result in soil disturbance are a misapplication of farm inputs, tillage, overgrazing that is various physical, chemical and biological activities. It is always suggested to follow this simple technique for soils.
- Increasing Plant Diversity
Biodiversity an ultimate solution for successful agricultural practices. Plants use CO2, water to supply the roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. There is an exchange of carbohydrates and nutrients between the roots of the plants and soil micro-organisms. Lack of plant diversity loses the potential of the soils to grow variety. So this plays a crucial factor in soil management.
- Keeping living roots in Soil
There is a space beneath the roots of the plant where the active exchange of food and nutrients is going on between the roots and micro-organisms. This space under the soil is called the rhizosphere. It is, therefore, that alternate planting of long season crop and short-season crop takes place throughout the year. The soil health majorly relies on how the soil food web is fed. So providing a lot of food to microbes keeps the soil alive.
- Integrating livestock
Livestock integration is an answer to better carbon/ nitrogen ratio, regrowth ratio increases, weed pressure management, increase in the nutritional diet, etc.
To sum it up, Thompson said, “We can change our soils and with more carbon, you’re less worried about moisture and when you feed microbiology, its money in the bank.”