Blog Archives

Concentrate Organic Matter at Surface to Improve Soils

tilling the field

Organic matter is the key to soil quality, but building soil organic matter levels can be slow and expensive. There is an alternative. Research shows (Franzluebbers, 2002) many soil functions improve when organic matter is concentrated in the top 2-3″

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Change your crop, change your soil

Soybean planted into wheat stubble. Image by Jason Miller, USDA-NRCS, via Flickr.

When I was a college student, almost every ag-related class I took mentioned the benefits of the “rotation effect” (better yields, fewer pests, etc.). However, aside from insect pests, how the “rotation effect” actually worked was always taught in only

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Ecosystems are not smart, we are.

Cover crop seed blend of 17 species

In my recent post Don’t mimic nature on the farm, improve it, I argued that we should cast aside the ideas of “balance of nature” and “nature knows best” in designing farming systems. There is no reason to “follow nature’s lead”

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Don’t Mimic Nature on the Farm, Improve it

320px-Thomas_Cole_The_Garden_of_Eden_Amon_Carter_Museum

Behind many efforts to make agriculture more sustainable is the idea that our farming systems need to be more like nature. According to agroecologist Miguel Alteri, “By designing farming systems that mimic nature, optimal use can be made of sunlight,

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Are You Micromanaging Your Soil?

Artwork for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) campaign on the value and benefits of productive, healthy soil management. Image from NRCS via Flickr.

mi·cro·man·age: to manage or control with excessive attention to minor details. As a means to improve soil management, I commend the high interest in soil biology among farmers and gardeners. However, I have noticed the tendency for this interest to

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