How will I profit from improved soil health?
Healthy soils are well balanced, highly mineralized soils that are biologically active and will improve profitability of your farming operation in many ways:
- Save you money by reducing your fertilizer rates . Many of our soils have large amounts of nutrients present in an unavailable form and many of our fertilizer nutrients are leached from our soils. This is due to soil imbalances, excess acidity and poor soil aeration, leading to a poor environment for promoting biological activity. Correct soil biology, including nitrogen fixing bacteria, is the key to building and holding soluble nutrients in the root zone and for releasing locked up nutrients. When your calcium, magnesium and potassium are balanced, pH corrected and soil biology is built up, you will benefit from applying much lower rates of fertilizer. We are looking to feed the soil, and then letting the soil feed the crop. In addition, soil testing indicates exactly how much fertilizer to use, so when levels of a particular nutrient are high, we can give you recommendations to reduce fertilizer rates that match the exact needs of each of your fields.
- Save you money by reducing your requirement for insecticides and fungicides. Crops that are mineral deficient fail to convert nitrates to protein and amino acids, resulting in a build up of nitrates and reducing sugars in the leaf. These are the exact conditions that attract pests and diseases. Crops on your farm that are well mineralized will not be attacked so readily by insects and diseases, allowing large savings on pesticides.
- Save you money by reducing your requirement for soil applied pesticides. Soils that have biological diversity will be able to control soil born disease pathogens from dominating the soil environment by direct competition for food sources. Controlling the C:N ratio in your soils is also critical for managing soil pathogens as excess nitrogen in low available carbon soils is a recipe for soil pathogen attack.
- Save you money by reducing your herbicide applications. Well adapted weeds grow much stronger than commercial crops in poorly balanced soils. It is well documented that grass weeds are indicators of low oxygen, calcium deficient soils and broadleaf weeds indicate a low P:K ratio. As soils are balanced and mineralized, weed pressure reduces.
- Save you money by improving your water use efficiency (less water needed per tonne of crop). By combining a well managed crop rotation and cover cropping system with reduced tillage (no till, strip till, CA), you will build humus levels (organic matter levels). Humus holds four times its own weight in water, therefore for every 1% organic matter that you build up in your soils, you can hold approximately 48 cubes more water for your crop which greatly reduces irrigation and greatly increases crop tolerance to drought.
- Greatly reduces soil erosion and environmental contamination. With increased humus and optimum calcium to magnesium balance in your soils, the healthy soil structure will be able to resist soil and nutrient loss (pollution) through erosion. This approach mean excess fertilizers are never applied, so run off of nitrates and phosphates is minimized.
- Give you higher profits by providing your customers with high quality, nutrient dense products. Cut flowers will have better shelf life. In the future, nutrient dense products therefore allow growers to command higher prices in the market. Nutrient dense foods provide better nutrition for consumers.
- Indirectly.... by reducing global warming - by capturing and storing carbon in your soils through improved crop residue management as a result of a healthy microbial soil population which enables rapid residue digestion and carbon sequestration. For every 1% organic matter built up in your soils, you are storing approximately an extra 12 tonnes of carbon. Opportunities will arise in carbon trading.