Soil Fertility

What is soil health and is it important? The USDA-NRCS defines soil health as “an assessment of how well soil performs all of its functions now and how those functions are being preserved for future use.”  Why is soil health important?  The better the health of the soil, the more the growing vegetation can resist the damaging forces of mother nature – drought, excessive rainfall, pests, disease, heat, cold and wind.

Healthy soil will largely maintain its structure when subjected to rapid wetting. Beneficial organisms – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, earthworms, and even predatory insects are abundant.  Improving the health of soils can increase nitrogen fixation by nitrogen-fixing bacteria, reduce compaction, increase atmospheric gaseous exchange, improve trace mineral availability, and improve water holding capacity over time.

What actions improve soil health?

  • Nutrient Management – balancing inputs with expected crop nutrient needs
  • Conservation Tillage – minimum or no-tillage
  • Cover Cropping – keep a growing root and a vegetative cover over the soil
  • Residue Management – maintaining crop or forage residue
  • Crop rotation – rotating crops to disrupt disease and pest cycles and improve soil quality
  • Minimizing pesticide inputs – pesticides kill beneficial soil organisms (fungi, bacteria, insects) along with the targeted pest(s).  The need for pesticides is reduced through crop rotation, cover cropping, and residue management.

As part of the collaborative nutrient management planning and implementation process, Brink, Inc. helps customers identify ways to correct soil health imbalances and improve overall soil structure, fertility and functional capacity.