In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl destroyed farms, causing farmers to abandon their fields because of drought and the loss of topsoil. Topsoil loss continues to be a top challenge of farmers across the United States. Today, the average farm loses 5.8 tons of topsoil per acre.
Losing topsoil has cascading effects on your farmland. When topsoil blows away, it takes beneficial microbes with it. These microbes are responsible for improving soil structure and aggregation, building soil carbon, and increasing nutrient retention. Plowing and discing fields disturbs the microbiome and depletes the health of your soil.
Many producers believe fertilizers are the answer to their soil health problems. But fertilizers are an expensive, short-term solution. Managing less productive soils is difficult and not very profitable. Regenerative farming practices improve soil health in a sustainable way, transforming poor soil into productive, high-yielding, healthy soils that are easier to manage.
The certified crop consultants at ST Biologicals are dedicated to improving the quality and quantity of America’s topsoil. Contact our consultants today to start improving your soil health.
Restoring your farm to a healthy ecosystem is a process. It all starts with a diverse microbial community in your soil. ST Biologicals uses the Phospholipid Fatty Acid (PLFA) test and the Haney test, two of the most thorough soil analyses available, to analyze your soil. These tests go above and beyond conventional tests to measure microbial biomass and diversity, NPK, and pH. Once your results are in, our consultants will explain what you need to do improve your soil’s health. You will probably need far less fertilizer than you have used in the past.
At ST Biologicals, we focus on the three areas that are crucial for healthy soil and higher yields.
Use of cover crops to replace certain tillage practices.
Increase activity in the soil microbiome.
Decrease use of conventional fertilizers.
Maintaining a living root structure year-round is the most important farm practice that contributes to healthy soil. Microbes are active all winter and need something to eat. There are more microbes in a tablespoon of soil than there are people on Earth. These microbes improve soil structure and aggregation, build soil carbon, and increase nutrient retention. Plant roots send signals to microbes to increase nutrient availability, fix nitrogen, and promote plant growth. When the soil is healthy, there is a natural increase in the plant’s ability to fight off pathogens and pests. As microbial populations increase and drive these processes, soil regenerates at increasing speed.
Tilling fields every year destroys the microbial community in soil. Using cover crops maintains and increases the microbial community. After a few years of using cover crops, you will see your soil health improve. Here is how the experts at ST Biologicals recommend you transition your farmland from tillage to cover crops.
Biologically active soil improves aggregation, raises water filtration rates, and improves disease resistance. Increasing the biodiversity in your soil will increase the amount of carbon in your soil. Carbon plays a critical role in soil function and productivity. It improves soil aeration, water drainage, and water retention. This reduces the risk of erosion and maintains more nutrients in the soil.
ST Biologicals can help you create biologically active soil by:
Conventional fertilizers are salts that contain various essential plant nutrients. If applied when soil is too dry, the salts will take water from your crops, dehydrating the roots. Herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides control pathogens, but they also destroy the beneficial bacteria and fungi that improve soil health.
Nitrogen, phosphorus, and other fertilizers produce a good yield in the short-term, but they deplete soil health in the long-term. This leads to more costs down the road, including fertilizer costs, tractor fuel, wear-and-tear on machinery, and more hours fertilizing and tending to farmland. With regenerative agriculture practices, you work with nature and use minimal inputs, saving you time and money.
These practices may cause your farmland to look a bit untidy, but they reap huge benefits to soil health and yield. The experts at ST Biologicals can help you:
Converting your farm from a convention or organic farm to a regenerative one requires change. One of the biggest changes is to your mindset. When you decide to improve your farm’s ecosystem instead of using it up, you’ve made a commitment to the land. You have also made a commitment to all future generations.