Thursday, August 28, 2014

Soil Health Explained

I just received this in email and thought it was a good topic.  What is soil health?  How do you explain it?

I have finally learned enough in 64 years I can tell the difference from poor soil health compared to good soil health.  I walk a lot of fields and dig more than many people and it is quite apparent to me what better soil structure is compared to less.

Basically, better soil structure is more crumbly, the plants and roots look healthy in it and it smells good.  It is often darker colored but don't let that fool you.  There are many lighter colored soils due to their formation that are really good soils compared to others.  Black does not mean better though it often is and it can stink because it is anaerobic.  Anaerobic is never good in soil.

Soil needs oxygen or atmospheric air which contains really little oxygen but enough to keep that soil from smelling anaerobic and make it more productive.  I've seen the most oxygenated soils at Keith's farm near Stockton, Iowa, but I have seen them other places, too.  Most fields do not have enough atmospheric air in them, in my opinion.

We all know that the way we farm affects our bottom line.  I don't talk to many people who don't need to address economics first.  Too often it is used to not do what is best for the soil which will make long term profit and sustainability and the answer is no-till.  Cover crops make no-till even better.

My friend Doug Galloway sent me this from Ray Ward in Nebraska.


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