The soil, as the primary resource for food production and the most important tool for every farmer, is crucial for farming. Successful farming begins with the quality soil, which provides water and essential nutrients to the crops. Rich and healthy soil, combined with the appropriate amount of water and sunlight can significantly contribute to global food production.
Proper soil management protects and enhances soil performance. It also reduces input costs, prevents pollution and improves yields and crop quality. Before planting, the soil should be in the best physical condition for the crop, to encourage rapid and successful root growth. Every farm and crop have different soil requirements, but there are a few common practices that could encourage healthy soil biology.
1. Soil Analysis
In order to follow good practices for sustainable soil management, it’s essential that farmers regularly perform soil analysis. By testing their soil, farmers can see the exact amount of soil nutrients, humus content, and pH value. According to the content of nutrients in the soil and the crop requirements, it’s easy to determine the necessary amount of fertilizer, to achieve higher yields and fruit quality.
2. Organic Fertilization
Organic matter consists of all living soil organisms and the previous living organisms in their various degrees of decomposition.
The formation and role of organic matter in the soil
It has a major role in soil management practices carried out before planting. Organic matter improves soil structure, enhances water and nutrient holding capacity, protects the soil from erosion and compaction, and supports a healthy community of soil organisms.
3. Proper Tillage
Proper tillage practices and type can significantly improve the quality and performance of the crop. There are various tillage systems, depending on production type, soil condition, crop planted and farm practices. The following picture summarizes tillage operations for both conventional and conservation tillage.
Tillage systems used for crop production
Conventional tillage is full-width tillage which disturbs the whole soil structure and includes various tillage operations before and after crop planting. On the other hand, the reduced and no-till tillage systems minimize soil disturbance and maintains a high level of surface residue.
4. Biological, Physical and Chemical Soil Protection Measures
In order to manage plant pests, farmers apply different protection measures: crop rotation, crop isolation, tillage, mixed farming, proper planting time, organic soil coverage and barriers, mulching, row maintenance in orchards, green manure, chemical and natural soil and plant treatments.
5. Proper Drainage and Irrigation
It is important to ensure good soil drainage as well as optimum humidity for young plants. Soils with less drainage may accumulate higher amounts of water than is needed and thus negatively affect seeds or young plants. On fields where the water is insufficient, irrigation is required. Immediately after planting and during the first stages, irrigation is the crucial farm practice. By following these practices, farmers can adjust the water needs according to the crop requirements.
Without fertile and nutrient enriched soil, farmer’s efforts in farming would be futile. As a person involved in the food production process, a farmer needs to understand soil requirements and to follow good practices before planting. In addition to these five main practices, Agrivi software can also help farmers to get the best out of their fields. With Agrivi, farmers can plan their crop rotation, keep soil analysis records and follow all their tasks, including tillage, fertilization, pest protection and irrigation. The software also guides you on how to prepare the soil for planting by giving you best practice processes in the form of tasks for over 80 different crops, for all types of production.