Diversity and Richness in the Soil

 

“Anytime an imbalance of species start to occur within the soil, a new set of challenges begin to emerge.”

 -Tim Tesreau  |  VP of Agronomy & Technical Support

 

Just as diversity is healthy for a well rounded society it is also true below the soil’s surface. Anytime an imbalance of species start to occur within the soil a new set of challenges begin to emerge. Some of the symptoms may include increased insect infestations, plant diseases, stunted plant growth, slow germination, increased weed pressure, and even changes in the soil structure. 

Any of these issues will contribute to lower yields and less profit. 

What are some things we can control that could help alleviate issues related to a lack of diverse soil life?

    1. Avoid keeping fields in continuous, same crop production year after year. Avoid continuous corn, beans, rice, wheat etc. Rotate crops.
    2. Change up your chemical weed controls, especially if not rotating your crops.
    3. Evaluate your soil nutrient balance. Many weed species are reduced by balancing the soil. Plant diseases may also be addressed by ensuring that minimum levels of essential nutrients are available outside of the standard NPK.  Soil test for all macro and micro-nutrients.
      • For example, are sulfur levels kept as high as your phosphorus levels? They should be. 25 to 30 ppm of sulfur per acre is just as important as maintaining 25 – 33 ppm of P using an M3 extraction as a minimum.

    4. Soil microbes are fed from the exudate of plant roots. Are you leaving any living roots once you harvest your crop? Are the microbes building resources and reserves during the fall and winter for you next spring?  If not, you need to be considering how to use microbes to your advantage.
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      Residue Management

      One of the symptoms of a lack of diversity and richness in soil life not mentioned earlier includes crop residue buildup. If you are seeing stubble, cobs, stover, etc. left from the prior year’s crop, then you have an untapped source of nutrients you can draw from in the future by adapting some of the following suggestions to increase microbial diversity and richness.

        • Work towards balancing your soil cations to give the best air to water ratio for soil life. Think of it like tuning an old carburetor to have the proper fuel to air ratio for maximum horsepower. Calcium controls the amount of air in the soil and magnesium controls the water retention. With calcium lacking you have less air and therefore less oxygen for life. Too little magnesium and water is not retained in the soil. Too much magnesium and you have a sticky wet soil and aerobic microbes starving for oxygen.
        • Use a prebiotic to feed the microbes, such as IgniteS2 , FoliarBlend or Ultra. Supply additional carbon when needed. Testing back in 2001 by the Gene Research Institute indicated AgriGro products increased the gaseous rate in soil by 25% as well as increasing soil porosity and expediting soil aggregation.
        • Plant multiple cover crops to maintain many different types of roots to build up a diverse population of microbes and to reduce surface soil erosion.
        • Spray harvested crop residues with AgriGro prebiotics and any lacking nutrients, such as AgriCal liquid calcium to stimulate microbes and breakdown plant material in preparation for the next seedbed. 

         

        Check out this study from the University of Missouri released in early 2019 which reveals FoliarBlend’s Impact on soil health by increasing native microbial richness and diversity.

        View Study

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