Categories: Field Crops

Design a crop cover strategy

Agricultural practices that degrade the soil are responsible for a host of problems: erosion, nutrient runoff, waterlogging, acidification, compaction, crusting,…

To sustain or regenerate soil health, farmers must actively manage soil’s physical, chemical and biological components. This in turn will promote plant, animal and ultimately human health.

Designing a crop cover strategy is essential, says Barry Fisher, soil health specialist at the US department of agriculture in Indianapolis.

Barry encourages farmers to:

  • Keep the soil surface covered and not destroy ground cover every year or every second year by tilling. “Proper soil cover results in moderate soil temperature. In fact, during the hot months it cools the soil for longer periods,” notes Barry.
  • Use a diverse crop rotation programme, because the whole becomes more beneficial than the sum of the parts. “Diversity above the ground provides continuous living roots, which sustain soil life, increase diversity below the ground and feed the soil,” explains Barry.
  • Plan their rotation systems strategically. When choosing a cover crop, the farmer should understand what they are planting, how it’s growing and how it can complement their next crop.

Soil should have the ability to withstand the forces of water. Without the desired biological components, the soil contains insufficient aggregates to ‘glue’ the soil particles together. As a result, it will not retain water well; water will either run through it or off it, causing erosion.

* Extracted from ‘Strategies to enhance soil health’ (FW, 29 August, 2014).

Published by
Caxton Magazines
Tags: agriculturecrop cover strategysoil health

Recent Posts

Land: access vs ownership

The one crucial point that should not be forgotten by all the organisations and political parties representing, or claiming to…

19 hours ago

Agri interventions key to Ramaphosa’s economic stimulus package

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that government has reprioritised funding towards an economic stimulus package that would focus on agriculture, among…

2 days ago

Biosecurity: your first line of defence against disease

Dr Fambies van Biljon, veterinarian at Sovereign Foods, talks to Glenneis Kriel about the crucial need to establish a well-run…

2 days ago

Local manufacturers seen at Royal Show

Every year, the Royal Show features exhibitors and agricultural equipment quite different from those at Nampo. The Royal Show is…

3 days ago

Free State fires claim first fatality

Fire officials in the Free State expressed hope that the forecast of rain for the weekend could bring some relief…

3 days ago

Making the most of calcium as a soil and plant nutrient

Despite being a vitally important element for optimal crop production, calcium is often largely undervalued by farmers and agronomists. Plant…

4 days ago

This website uses cookies.