SOIL HEALTH PRESENTATION HOSTED BY PROWERS CONSERVATION DISTRICT OFFERS PRODUCERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK AT THEIR SOIL AS A LIVING ORGANISMS RATHER THAN AN INANIMATE OBJECT.
Producers that attended the February 17th workshop learned that every time you slice into the soil you release moisture and damage soil structure. Guest speaker Ryan Hytree, Soil Health Team member and NRCS Soil Conservationist from the Rocky Ford Field office shed light on an old subject the health of the soils.
If your goal is to have water soak into the ground rather than run off the surface you need to have soil with good structure. The goal now is to ensure the ground is covered all the time as in nature. You can achieve that with a cover crop or high residue left on the surface. If you prevent plant and want to have cover, allow your weeds to grow and before they produce seed mow them off rather than using an herbicide. It will take all the water you say, no it will provide shade for the soil, catch morning dew, produce roots that aerate and work the soil and provide food for the organisms in the ground. When you mow the weeds stubble will be left to hold the soil and prevent the top soil where all the nutrients are from being removed with high winds.
Some inorganic fertilizers can hurt earthworms and other soil organisms so always apply at the right rate using a soil test as your guide. A cover crop does not mean turnips, cow peas, radishes necessarily you could combine triticale with another crop and reach the same goals; something you know will grow here. Clover is a great plant and so is rye to hold the soil and restore it. You can try it on a small scale in your garden.
The only time you find bare ground in nature is where man has disturbed it. That should tell us something, Mother Nature knows that in order to be productive you have to keep the soil protected. We have been struggling with a drought for years and we need every edge we can get to get back to a successful living soil profile. Good management means something entirely different than we were once taught, it means don’t overwork the soil and let something live on the surface at all times to feed the herd of microorganisms and nematodes and cool it for less moisture loss and better structure. The new soil motto is “Keep It Covered.” Also graze your stalks, it is good to have manure and urine placed in the profile and the hoof action of the cattle to provide moderate aeration. A message brought to you by the Prowers Conservation District.
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