8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil

by Larry Cooper

8 SIMPLE STEPS TO HEALTHY CROP SOIL: A PREVIEW

Of course, you'll need to read this complete article to understand how and why each of these steps is essential for creating healthy crop soil, but here's a preview.

  • Understand that soil is a living system.
  • Measure and document your soil characteristics.
  • Disturb the soil structure as little as possible.
  • Bring plant diversity to the soil.
  • Keep soil covered at all times.
  • Keep living roots in the soil all year round.
  • Build soil organic matter.
  • Have a soil health plan: Review and revise it regularly.

Decline in soil health is one of the most potentially devastating world-wide crises of the 21st century, but the average person who does not farm probably never gives farm soil a second’s thought: The supermarkets are fully stocked—everything must be okay, right?

It’s not. A Reuters news headline from 2014 stated, “Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues.” The article quoted the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as saying that about a third of the world’s soil has already been degraded from chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation, and global warming. It was predicted that in 2050 the amount of agricultural land, in particular, would be only a quarter of the amount available in 1960—yet we will have 2 billion more people to feed.

What can be done about it? Quite a bit, actually; though reversing soil degradation and improving soil health is going to require changes in thinking and changes in some very hard-wired cultural practices. The 8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil that we’re about to discuss are culled from a variety of farming philosophies, some as old as time itself. You can find them in modern-era discussions of Regenerative Agriculture, Restoration Agriculture, and Conservation Agriculture, but they also draw from many aspects of “conventional” farming that were in place long before the concept of “conventional” included chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Most important, these steps are modeled on the practices followed by Nature itself in every undisturbed forest floor, unplowed prairie, and pristine mountain meadow.

The very best thing about the 8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil is that these practices can be profitably applied with good results by commercial farmers (conventional and organic), hobby farmers, community gardeners, even the “square-foot” backyard gardeners in the middle of a city. And while geography, soil type, and soil history certainly influence how the 8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil are implemented, implementing them all (and it has to be all of them) will lead to good results in all soil-based plant-growing situations.

What are the benefits of healthy soil?

Better Yields. Healthy soil produces more abundant crops of higher quality that are less susceptible to pests and diseases, more drought resistant, and better tolerant of wind, heavy rain, hail, heat, and all the other mayhem that keeps farmers up at night.

Economic Return. In addition to better yields, crops will require less chemical input in terms of fertilizers and pesticides. This won’t happen overnight, or even necessarily in the first year or two. But in the long term, growers will find their input expenditures greatly reduced.

A Farm for the Kids. Restoring health to the soil in a sustainable way means that growers will leave their kids a productive, profitable farm that the kids, in turn, can also leave in good shape for the grandkids.

Saved Planet. Though not necessarily our immediate goal, following the 8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil will increase the amount of carbon sequestered in the soil and lower CO2 levels in the atmosphere, which will help reduce global warming and give our grandkids’ grandkids a decent world in which they can live and prosper.

With these impressive benefits in mind, let’s dig deeper into how to create healthy crop soil.

Download/read the complete White Paper here.

Huma Gro®: Practically Perfect in Every Way for Strawberries

Successful strawberry farming presents many unique challenges. As with every other type of crop, each farm will have its own challenges related to soil, soil tilth, soil pathogens, soil nutrient cycling, nutrient availability, plant vigor, irrigation needs, etc. Combined with those challenges are strawberry farming cultural practices related to continuous cropping and soil fumigation—with the resulting lack of crop diversity and soil microbial diversity that increases soil-borne diseases and tends to reduce yields over time. Strawberry farming continues to get more expensive while yields (and profits) are diminishing. What to do?
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Micronutrients Are the Key to Better Yields

wheat

Experts say that utilizing the smallest nutrients can unlock the greatest potential.

By Larry Cooper, with Dr. Rita Abi-Ghanem

Micronutrients play a critical role in plant vigor, yield, and harvest quality. Yet, they are often overlooked when growers develop their nutrient programs. In this article, we provide an overview of what micronutrients are, the roles they play, how availability is affected by soil and other conditions, how to recognize deficiencies, and the important steps to take when developing a micronutrient plan for your crops.
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El valor de las sustancias húmicas en el ciclo de vida del carbón de los cultivos:

Ácidos húmicos, ácidos fúlvicos, y más.

El siguiente artículo se publicó originariamente en la edición de enero de 2017 de la revista AgroPages.

Las sustancias húmicas desempeñan un papel importante en la fertilidad del suelo y en el rendimiento de los cultivos. Este artículo proporciona una visión general básica de lo que son las sustancias húmicas, cómo se crean y cómo funcionan. Se discute cómo agregar contenido húmico al suelo del cultivo, incluyendo el uso de productos comerciales tales como la línea de ácidos orgánicos ricos en carbono de Huma Gro®.

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Para saber más sobre los productos Huma Gro haga clic aqui.

Los micronutrientes son la clave para mejorar la producción

En algunas ocasiones, las cosas más pequeñas pueden liberar nuestro mayor potencial.

Escrito por Larry Cooper, con la colaboración de la Dra. Rita Abi-Ghanem.

El siguiente artículo se publicó originariamente en la edición de marzo de 2015 y febrero de 2016 de la revista CropLife y la edición de verano de 2017 de Fluid Journal.

Los micronutrientes desempeñan un rol fundamental en el vigor de la planta, el rendimiento y la calidad de la cosecha. Sin embargo, a menudo se los pasa por alto cuando los productores desarrollan los programas de nutrientes. En este artículo proporcionamos información general sobre qué son los nutrientes, los roles que desempeñan, cómo se ve afectada la disponibilidad debido al suelo y otras condiciones, cómo reconocer las deficiencias y cuáles son los pasos más importantes al desarrollar un plan de micronutrientes para los cultivos.

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Para saber más sobre Huma Gro haga clic aqui.

Dígale Adiós a los Fumigantes de Suelos

Un Enfoque Eficaz y Responsable

Si bien, con el paso de los años, el uso de los fumigantes de suelos antes de la plantación se ha vuelto una práctica estándar para muchos productores, los problemas respecto de la disponibilidad del producto, las limitaciones a la seguridad, las cuestiones ambientales y la sostenibilidad de los suelos han comenzado a cuestionar dicha práctica. Ahora los productores se enfrentan a un dilema: La fumigación ha sido la solución sencilla a las muchas causas de los rendimientos disminuidos de los cultivos, pero, ¿qué opciones disponibles hay que sean igual de eficaces para proteger el rendimiento y, aun así, cumplir con la responsabilidad por salud, seguridad e impacto ambiental?

En este artículo, se destacan alternativas sostenibles a la fumigación de suelos, incluido el uso de la combinación de dos productos específicos de Huma Gro®, Promax® y Zap®, que actúan como fungicidas/nematicidas eficaces y generan, a su vez, una fuerte biología del suelo, a los fines de la mejora natural de la salud y de la fertilidad del suelo.

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The Value of Humic Substances in the Carbon Lifecycle of Crops:

Humic Acids, Fulvic Acids, and Beyond.

A New White Paper from Huma Gro®

This white paper is based on an article by Huma Gro® staff originally published in the January 2017 issue of AgroPages Magazine.

Humic substances play an important role in soil fertility and crop yield. This article provides a basic overview of what humic substances are, how they are created, and how they work. Discussion is provided on how to add humic content to crop soil, including the use of commercial products such as the Huma Gro® line of carbon-rich organic acids.

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For more information on Huma Gro® Carbon-Rich Organic Acids, go to https://humagro.com/huma-gro-products/organic-acids/.

To view an online version of the complete Huma Gro® Product Catalog, go to http://bit.ly/HumaGroCatalog2017.

Micronutrients Are the Key to Better Yields

Sometimes the Smallest Things Can Unlock Our Greatest Potential

A New White Paper from Huma Gro®

This White Paper is based on an article by Huma Gro® staff that was originally published in the March 2015 and February 2016 issues of CropLife Magazine.

Micronutrients play a critical role in plant vigor, yield, and harvest quality. Yet, they are often overlooked when growers develop their nutrient programs. In this article we provide an overview of what micronutrients are, the roles they play, how availability is affected by soil and other conditions, how to recognize deficiencies, and the important steps to take when developing a micronutrient plan for your crops.

Read Online          Download PDF

To view the complete Huma Gro® Product Catalog, go to http://bit.ly/HumaGroCatalog2017.

Saying Goodbye to Soil Fumigants

An Effective and Responsible Approach

A New White Paper from Huma Gro®

While the routine use of pre-plant soil fumigants has become standard practice for many growers over the years, problems with product availability, safety restrictions, ecological concerns, and soil sustainability have begun to call the practice into question. Growers are now faced with a dilemma: Fumigation has been an easy solution to many causes of decreased crop yields, but what options are available that are as effective to protect yield yet still responsible when it comes to health, safety, and environmental impact?

This article highlights sustainable alternatives to soil fumigation, including the combination use of two specific Huma Gro® products, Promax® and Zap®, that provide effective nematicide/fungicide actions while building a vigorous soil biology for the natural improvement of soil health and fertility.

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For more information on Promax®, go to https://humagro.com/PCC317

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