Before discussing soil health, it is important that you consider the following two questions.
- How to define soil health?
- How to obtain it?
Let’s answer the first question first. Ray Archuleta of the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) has comprehensively defined soil health. According to Ray, soil health refers to the capacity of the soil to function continually and effectively.
Well, as far as the second question is concerned, it is a bit complex. Obtaining soil health isn’t only about maximizing soil productivity, rather farming methodology needs to be changed as well. You may add cover crops to get the job done, as these crops can be used as a comprehensive farming too, adds Archuleta.
In order to know the amount of cover crops to be used, you need to take soil sample and then compare it with the required results. When taking the soil sample, make sure you check for the different types of worms that may be present in the soil. If you are looking to enhance the productivity of your soil naturally, then you need to focus on soil testing, for which sample selection is the key.
Following are the seven indicators that can help you establish whether your soil can function effectively on its own or not.
- Soil Organics
- Soil structure and its stability
- Nutrient Cycling
- Water infiltration
- Holding Capacity
- Soil Porosity
- Soil’s natural life
- Soil respiration
Changing your Perspective
According to Archuleta, you need to change the way you think about the soil. You need to treat the soil as a living being and should cater to its requirements accordingly. If you treat the soil this way, then you can easily achieve the results you require. This is all about changing your perspective about the soil.
To maintain soil health, you need to avoid the following three types of soil disturbances, adds Archuleta. These form part of the normal farming procedures.
These refers to the disturbances caused by the chemicals, i.e. fertilizers, pesticides etc. To reduce this type of disturbance, it is important that you perform field scouting regularly.
These include the compaction and tillage related disturbances. Such disturbance can limit the soil balances and productivity, so it is important to reduce it.
The most common types of biological disturbances include lack of soil diversity and overgrazing.
For you to overcome the disturbances, it is important that you consider the soil as a living entity, as then you would be able to get the diversified and required results out of the soil easily.