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).

Share
Published by
Caxton Magazines
Tags: agriculturecrop cover strategysoil health

Recent Posts

SA frozen chicken meat imports hit record levels last year

South Africa set a new record for the amount of frozen broiler meat that was brought into the country last…

17 hours ago

Mixed farming: key to livestock success for Free State farmer

Nelius Ferreira, the Free State’s Top Young Farmer for 2018, focuses on quality production in a global marketplace. Sabrina Dean…

18 hours ago

Wine industry satisfied with inflationary sin tax increase

The South African wine and brandy industry has welcomed the inflationary increase in excise duties announced by Finance Minister Tito…

2 days ago

Hedging market and climate risks on a family wine farm

Boplaas Family Vineyards shows that farm size does not really matter if you want to makeit in the wine industry.…

2 days ago

SA peanut plantings at lowest level ever

Only 19 200ha had been planted to peanuts in the 2018/2019 production season, which is the smallest area on record,…

2 days ago

No pay rise for MPs as govt seeks to close budget deficit

South Africa is not immune to events in the global economy and the expected slowdown in world economic growth will…

3 days ago

This website uses cookies.