A healthy agro-ecosystem contributes both directly and indirectly to agricultural production, and more emphasis should be placed on restoring and maintaining healthy agro-ecosystems.
On pasture-based farms, the roughage grown on pastures is the predominant feed source. It is therefore most beneficial to grow and utilise these pastures effectively.
There is a lot more nutrient cycling taking place than just what is put into the soil through fertiliser, and taken out in grass and eventually milk. In order to develop a more efficient nutrient cycling system, farmers have to take into account the various losses and sources of nutrients.
Soil respiration has been extensively promoted as a simple, holistic measure of microbial activity in the soil. Simply capture and measure the amount of carbon dioxide produced by soil and you will have an idea of the metabolic activity of the life in the soil.
Active carbon is the part of soil organic matter that is readily available as an energy source for soil life. It is a very good indicator of soil health, responding much faster to changes in management practices than most other indicators.
Here is a practical guide based on the work by Graham Shepherd to assess the health of your soil visually. Use this guide in association with the sustainability indicators if you want to improve your soil health.
A supply of nutrients and minerals to soils which is greater than the amount needed to maintain soil health and fertility actually endangers the soil and can negatively impact on surface and ground water sources.
Energy is imperative to growth and sustenance of all animals, and plays a major role in the production of milk by a dairy cow.
The soil’s ability to hold nutrients is very closely associated with yield potential. Soil management practices that aim to improve cation exchange capacity guarantee higher and cost effective production.
Soil fertility is the soils ability to provide essential nutrients in sufficient quantities as required by the plant. A soil that has a high bulk density will not be able to provide nutrients in sufficient quantities, because bulk density influences the soils ability to infiltrate and store water.
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