Physical soil disturbances are a well-documented and well-understood concept; however, we underestimate the disturbances that result from chemical and biological processes.
Rebecca Burgess, founder of the Fibershed project says that, “our soils have a carbon debt; the atmosphere is gushing with carbon. The carbon over our heads is literally in the wrong place” and this couldn’t be truer.
Often farmers treat the farm as a whole and that is completely wrong. Fields within a few meters from each other can have completely different characteristics, especially with regards to soil biology.
Oxygen is one of the overlooked but most important requirements for microbial and root development. In fact, I’d even posit that it is more important than food, water, and warmth.
Keeping the soil covered is important for soil conservation. The abundance and diversity of food for soil organisms is what determines a soil’s natural productivity.
Graham’s keynote presentation, Managing N and C to maximise farm performance, truly resonated with the audience. Many of the farmers in attendance are already in transition towards sustainable farming while others are not quite there yet.
Nitrogen is the growth element. Plants need it, no doubt about that. In the first half of a plant’s growth cycle, it takes in about 80% of the total nitrogen it needs for the entire cycle.
The ultimate goal is a healthy soil, with a fully functioning soil food web. One of the important steps in achieving this is ensuring the correct diet for the microbes which make up the full food web.
The unique and constant interaction between plant roots, bacteria and fungi creates a fantastic symbiosis. Farmers are able to facilitate or limit this interaction through the practices they implement.