Farmers and gardeners alike are looking for ways to improve the health of their soil and ability to store water for drought relief.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service released its “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” campaign, “leading the effort to get more farmers and ranchers to adopt soil health management systems for a wide range of on- and off-farm benefits – including drought resiliency.”
“Organic matter and living organisms provide the foundation for soil to function properly, allowing it to take in, store and deliver water to plants, among many other benefits,” said NRCS’ Soil Health Division Director, Dr. Bianca Moebius-Clune.
“Organic matter causes soil to form stable soil aggregates, or crumbs,” she said. “With better soil structure, infiltration of water into the soil improves, which allows the entire soil profile to take in and hold more water when it rains.” Healthy soil acts much like a sponge, with its ability to absorb and hold much of its volume in water.
Earthworms and black casting from worms create “macro-pores”, increases the soil’s ability to store water. “Bacteria, fungi and other soil life build and stabilize smaller ‘micro-pores’ that further increase the soil’s capacity to hold water,” Moebius-Clune said.
Unlocking the Secrets in the Soil explains
Soil is a living and life-giving natural resource. As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. By farming using soil health principles and systems that include no-till, cover cropping and diverse rotations, more and more farmers are actually increasing their soil’s organic matter and improving microbial activity. As a result, farmers are sequestering more carbon, increasing water infiltration, improving wildlife and pollinator habitat—all while harvesting better profits and often better yields.
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