Home » Why Soil Health Matters When It Comes to Water Management

Why Soil Health Matters When It Comes to Water Management

Sponsored by Ferticell®

In yet another year of unprecedented challenges for American growers and farmers, the fight to keep production, yields, and profits is more challenging than ever. Growers are looking primarily to their soil, and asking the big question as they always do: “What can my soil do for me this year?” But in a year marred by uncertainty, growers are now asking another question that may be more important for their soils: “What can I do for my soil?”

With some portions of the country still in drought conditions, water will not be the fix-all to flushing salt, therefore managing soil health, building soil organic matter (SOM), and keeping nutrients available to the plant will be crucial to a successful season. Yields suffer when plants are stressed, nutrients are in lock-up, or missing from the rhizosphere. Managing plant stress through focusing on soil health will support and restore the natural functions of soils to retain nutrients and water within the root zones where they are available.

Product Selection

With conventional inputs in scarce supply in some portions of the country or inflated in price, growers are back in education mode. They are looking for the key to delivering the nutrient levels needed while turning a profit. Many are looking at certified organic or plant-derived fertilizers for their ability to support a healthy soil structure by stimulating microorganisms and their many beneficial activities. As an added benefit to focusing on soil health, there is a natural adjustment in soil pH that occurs in balanced and healthy soils.

ploughed field

Soil Management

Land management practices and fertilization must provide many benefits, including nutrient cycling, disease suppression, soil structural enhancement, and a profitable crop yield. When a well-thought-out and planned approach to producing a healthier soil profile is executed it can provide support for crop growth, allowing varieties to reach their full genetic potential. Healthy soils are essential to preserving water quality as well as human health post-harvest. For soil to be productive, physical properties, biological performance, and chemistry must be balanced. The erosion of topsoil is minimized when soil organisms are given the ability to stabilize the soil structure.

Soils with proper physical properties can facilitate the management of salts that are a component of marginal water quality. Growers who are forced to pump from wells or required to use less than ideal water sources in current conditions should be concerned with salinization. High salt levels in water can rob soils of physical characteristics, plant available water, and a proper sequence of nutrient cycling.

The identification of salts and risks they pose will directly benefit soils and should be considered a necessity for economic gain and the protection of living, healthy soils in the future.

Water Limitations

Recent studies have shown that many plant protection products are ineffective when used with high salt-content water sources in conventional agriculture. For fertility to perform as well as it has in the past, it is common for higher application rates to be required.

In situations where water is a limiting factor for soils, the use of low rates of certified organic products such as calcium carbonate can provide the protection of plant-available water that is restricted by sodium and other salts. Each application of Cations such as Calcium will always increase efficiencies by chelation with plant-based amino acid products.

Most conventional fertility products today will benefit from the “bridging” of plant-based organic options. By including cleaner, low-negative salt fertilizers that avoid the sulfur, nitrates, chlorides, and hydroxides that many products contain, sustainable fertility programs can be developed that allow for the restoration of healthy soils.

Final Thoughts

To meet our stewardship responsibilities, we need to expand our knowledge of soils beyond the conventional soil audit. The improvement of physical and biological traits of soils is on an equal footing with fertile soils. This can be easily demonstrated by improved soil structures such as infiltration and organic matter development.

Recognizing the environmental as well as the economic benefits of utilizing organic, mineral, and plant-based materials can and will enhance the quality of our environment, reduce long-term operation and fertility costs, all while ensuring the future of soil productivity and farming for future generations.

Sponsored Message:

Ferticell™ salinity management programs are facilitated with proper timing applications at 32-64 fl. Oz of Absolute Acid™ with nutrition replacement applications of Calcium 880Plus™, and when budget permit, Nutri-Plus™ at 32 fl. Oz/acre. Ferticell is a sustainable and organic agriculture fertilizer company that carries 16 fertilizers, all designed with soil health in mind. Find one of our 630+ ag retail partner locations on our website or ask your local distributor about the Ferticell™ product line.