The soil is more than just a big blob of brown stuff. It has organic matter, mineral particles as well as a variety of microorganisms. The quantity of each of these determines the health of that soil.
What if we could build healthy, thriving soil ecosystems? Soil which allows plants to grow well, without excessive and expensive inputs.
I realised again that there is still a lot of work for us, as the sustainable agriculture community, to do. We need to continue improving the health of agricultural land.
Nitrogen is a nutrient that is crucial for the optimal growth of plants. Its role in plant health may very well be unparalleled, but what happens when it becomes excessive in the soil? Is it “the more the better”, or rather a case of “too much of a good thing”?
The SWAN system is composed of soil, water, atmosphere and nutrient components. The best way to show how these integrated and interrelated measures reflect the journey of improving agricultural sustainability is to show a case study of a farm which has become more sustainable over the past five years.
The reality is that adapting agricultural practices when the drought is already upon us is actually too late. Sustainable agriculture should be a way of life.
Nitrogen alone cannot carry the responsibilities of other nutrients in the plant. That is why farmers need to have a balance of all essential plant nutrients in order to archive optimal growth.
The benefits of multispecies pasture are not only limited to the benefits mentioned in this blog, they are far greater. I have isolated these ones because they are the most pertinent and directly relate to farm profitability.
The black maize beetle is a pest to many of the pasture grasses planted on Eastern Cape dairy farms. Two of the most prominent grasses which are favoured by these beetles are ryegrass and kikuyu.
Farmers that include lucerne as part of their pasture mixtures will benefit from free nitrogen both from the atmosphere and from an enhanced mineralisation rate that will be stimulated by diverse pastures. The free nitrogen will help reduce fertiliser costs and improve farm efficiency.