The cradle of food productionModern farming methods have increased crop yields but also degraded soil quality and its ability to store carbon. Less invasive farming techniques not only promise to reverse this trend, but in fact play a key role in increasing soil organic carbon stores.
The cultivation of a single crop over large areas can lead to soil depletion and an increased risk of pests and diseases.
The excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers can lead to soil contamination and damage to beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
Over-irrigation or improper irrigation can lead to salinization of the soil, making it difficult to grow crops.
Heavy machinery and equipment can compact the soil, making it difficult for roots to penetrate and for water and air to circulate.
Allowing too many livestock to graze on a small area can lead to soil erosion and damage to vegetation, making it difficult for the land to recover.
The overuse of certain tilling techniques can cause nutritious topsoil to be removed, affecting soil fertility in the long run.
Ignoring soil health
Not testing soil and not adjusting farming practices to match the soil's needs can lead to the depletion of soil fertility over time.
Using farming methods that minimise soil disturbance, such as no-till or reduced tillage. This helps to preserve soil structure and reduce erosion.
Rotating different types of crops on a field can help to improve soil health by adding diversity to the soil’s microorganisms, which can improve nutrient cycling and reduce pests and diseases.
Planting cover crops, such as legumes, between cash crops can help to add organic matter to the soil, reduce erosion, and add nutrients.
Composting organic material, such as crop residues and animal manure, can help to add organic matter and nutrients to the soil.
Using irrigation methods that are appropriate for the soil type and crop can help to conserve water and reduce erosion.
Regularly testing soil to determine nutrient levels and pH can help to ensure that crops are receiving the proper nutrition and can help to prevent over-fertilization.
Using a combination of techniques to control pests and diseases, such as using natural predators and resistant crop varieties.