Healthy soil is at the core of everything we do…but how do you make soil healthy? Of the many resources out there, USDA/NRCS provides this great infographic on what you can find if your soil is healthy.
So how can you get soil that is teeming with life?
- Add organic matter. Compost! Mulch! Manure! Healthy soils typicall have a 3-5% layer of organic matter on top.
- Disturb the soil as little as possible. Tilling and other activities harm microbiota in soils that are necessary for nutrient uptake.
- Grow many different species of plants through rotations and diverse mixture of cover crops. Biodiversity is key to a healthy ecosystem whether above or below ground. Not only does this provide habitat for a variety of microbiota, but an assortment of plants with varying root depths help to create pore spaces for soil to take up air, water and nutrients. Also, these roots act as natural tillers.
- Plant cover crops around harvest to keep living roots growing in the soil for as much of the year as possible. Cover crops, or green manure, feed soils following vegetable crops and provide coverage from the elements.
- No bare soils. Keep the soil surface covered year round. Soil that is uncovered is likely to suffer from compaction from feet or paws, and nutrient leaching from heavy rains.