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, salinisation, nutrient depletion, leaching, organic matter loss, toxic accumulation, and desertification.

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: agriculture crop cover strategy soil health

Recent Posts

  • Agribusiness
  • Featured Home Image

How African superfoods inspire local agripreneur

Indigenous African ingredients and food traditions are underrepresented on the local and international markets. Black Umbrellas Global Entrepreneur Week 2018…

12 hours ago
  • Caxton
  • South Africa
  • Use only text

OVK increases turnover despite ‘challenging conditions’

The agribusiness, OVK Group, has announced an increase of 8, 55% in turnover for the 2018/2019 financial year compared with…

13 hours ago
  • Featured Home Image
  • Letter from the editor

How to turn Africa’s food fortunes around

Should African countries fail to increase food production and processing to become at least partly self-sufficient, it will be one…

2 days ago
  • World

Brazilian cotton farmers sue Bayer for US$151 million

Cotton farmers in the Mato Grosso region in Brazil are suing Bayer in an attempt to get a US$151 million…

2 days ago
  • By Invitation
  • Featured Home Image

SA agri training needs drastic digital overhaul

Digital technologies and innovations have the potential to revolutionise the world’s food systems. This is why agricultural education and training,…

3 days ago
  • South Africa

No serious injuries reported after Astral chemical leak

A chemical leak at one of Astral’s processing plants in Olifantsfontein had resulted in the hospitalisation of 15 of the…

3 days ago