Preserving soil-the most basic of all resources has never been more important to our future. The world’s farmers face the daunting task of doubling food production by 2050 to feed a global population that’s expected to number around 9 billion people.
Options are limited for bringing in new land suitable for high crop yield. And it takes Mother Nature 100 to 500 years to form 1 inch of topsoil. Satisfying the growing global appetite will require farmers to continue to fine-tune soil management measures that enhance farm productivity. They will also need to apply the best production practices to ensure the long-term sustainability and health of every amble acre.
Soil scientists have identified more than 70,000 kinds of soil in the U.S. And as every farmer knows, all soils are not created equal. In reality, soil is a complex mix of living organisms with intricate relationships, working to hreak down organic matter, transforming nutrients that crops can use and making surface soil richer. Soil is teeming with activity-5 to 10 tons of animal life can live in an acre of soil. But it must be nurtured to grow optimum yields.
This issue looks at some of the many factors that play into the health of the soil-on and below the surface. Many of the farmers featured are true disciples of soil quality. They have spent years studying the intricacies of soil structure and how microorganisms, earthworms and natural processes interact to turn dirt into black gold. They’re sensitive to the impact their production practices have on soil condition because any dam<1gc to the soil profile can disturb nature’s delicate balance and put soil health on life support.
To keep improving crop yield, soil amendments matter to these farmers . And it’s easy to see why.
- Helps to improve soil quality
- Holds and releases nutrients according to the plant’s needs
- Increases water-holding capacity to preserve moisture and improve water quality
- Promotes water infiltration and storage
- Reduces soil crusting, which reduces runoff.
Organic matter is just one of the cornerstones to building a foundation of higher yields. It’s what transforms soil to what every farmer wants: pay dirt.