Soil holds the secrets to keeping your roots and your crop healthy. To help ensure your soil supports a plentiful and quality harvest year after year, you’ll benefit from a clear understanding of the actions you can take to keep it a productive resource.
Doran describes soil health as “The capacity of soil to function as a vital living system, within ecosystem and land-use boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and promote plant and animal health” (Doran et al. 1996). Healthy soils can suppress naturally soil-borne pathogens and pests, support efficient nutrient cycles and provide improved physical structure for robust root foundation and plant growth. This is why it is important to know what agricultural practices to adopt to boost soil health.
Crops draw nutrients from the soil through their roots. The roots in turn, release food that sustains the beneficial organisms in the soil. However, roots are not immune to threats. A variety of factors can destroy roots. One of the least understood threats is harmful nematodes, which are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye but can cause significant yield loss. Control of harmful nematodes is essential to keeping crops healthy. Contrary to what many people think, the number of harmful nematodes in the soils is easily outnumbered by the number of beneficial nematodes that promote natural fertility and quality over time. Beneficial nematodes feed on bacteria, fungi, insects or harmful nematodes in the soil, stimulating soil nutrient cycles, and keeping populations of damaging plant pests and diseases at bay. Therefore, it is crucial to adopt farm management tools that work in harmony with the beneficial nematodes.
You can take several actions to preserve and promote the health of your soils, including:
- Minimizing disturbance by adopting practices like no-till or minimum tillage
- Planting cover crops to preserve moisture and reduce erosion
- Promoting biodiversity in the soils by choosing inputs that are less disruptive to the beneficial organisms in the soil
- And using nematicides that preserve beneficial nematodes and control harmful ones
Healthy soils promote healthy crops and abundant yields for years. A simple shift from merely managing the soil to proactively advancing soil health and recognizing the greater role it plays in benefiting farmland and the planet can create long-term value. As farmers, you can take actions today to leave behind a legacy for the future.
Start at the roots. A new way to elevate your soil is on the horizon.
For more information about Corteva Agriscience™ products or to contact our Horticulture Experts visit us at Horticulture.corteva.ca