below ground - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

Transitioning to No-Till on heavy ground

below ground

By gary | Published February 12, 2021 | Full size is 1920 × 1080 pixels

Soil, health has come under an increasing spotlight in recent years. However, soil biology is hugely complex subject with little scientific understanding about the best biological balance on different soil types, let alone agreement on how it should be managed. Despite the number of services on offer, there continues to be no reliable test to benchmark biological activity in the soil. Until there is, Andrew Richards believes the key focus for growers must be on ‘habitat creation’. “All our experience with improving above-ground biodiversity shows success is about creating the right habitat and providing food,” he points out. “So, we should have as least as much to gain from doing this in the soil. “This means optimising soil structure, pH and drainage; providing as much rotational diversity and year-round cover as possible; increasing organic matter as a food source for soil flora and fauna; and minimising habitat-disrupting cultivation. “Some growers are choosing to add biological products to the soil. But with between 12,000 and 20,000 different micro-organisms found living around crop roots alone, I really doubt this will make much, if any, difference. Certainly not if the habitat doesn’t allow them to survive and thrive. “For heaven’s sake then let’s concentrate on improving our soil habitats with techniques we know can work before we even think about putting time, effort and money into unproven additions, however seductively attractive they may appear.

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