How organic farming maintain soil health?

Organic farmers build soil life by adding compost and other organic materials, diversifying crop rotation, growing cover crops, using legumes to provide nitrogen (N), and integrating crops and livestock. Healthy soils are essential for the production of resilient crops and for supporting our ecosystem. They contribute positively to soil water retention, support a variety of organisms vital to the decomposition and cycling of nutrients, provide crops with essential nutrients and can maintain carbon reserves, contributing to the mitigation of global climate change. In short, there is no way to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel if we don't maintain soil health.

Although not normally harvested for profit, cover crops still provide valuable services to your operation. Cover crop roots form channels in the soil that improve their ability to absorb water. Cover crops also accumulate organic matter in the soil, hold soil in place that could otherwise be eroded, and feed soil organisms that provide valuable nutrients to commercial crops during the traditional growing season. USDA researchers in Beltsville, Maryland, compared nitrous oxide emissions from a variety of management treatments on a well-drained sandy site that was transitioning from conventional agriculture to organic vegetable production over a three-year period.

Soils rich in organic matter retain more air and water and produce higher yields than soils with low organic matter content. The techniques used by organic farmers can help stop soil health degradation, or even restore soil health in previously degraded soils, because they replenish soil organic carbon and preserve underground biodiversity. In addition, the percentage of organic matter in soil in a sequestered form is higher in organically managed soils compared to conventional soils (57.3 percent compared to 45 percent). Increasing diversity in your operation can disrupt disease cycles, stimulate plant growth and provide habitat for pollinators and organisms that live in the soil.

Extensive soil health surveys that compare organic and conventional systems systematically show the benefits of organic agriculture, but rarely compare strategies within organic systems to understand where these benefits arise or how they can be maximized. Adding compost, using cover crops and mulches, and limiting tillage (basic principles of organic soil management) increase and preserve organic matter. Among cultivated fields, organically managed fields had more biological activity than those that were conventionally managed, suggesting once again that tillage and other practices can encourage or discourage HMA populations. Inoculating crops with commercial AMF preparations can be expensive, but organic soils tend to have a high content of native AMF, reducing or eliminating the need for inoculation.

Compared to conventional agricultural practices, organic agriculture methods promote not only higher levels of organic matter in the soil, but also of humidified (sequestered) carbon (4.1 percent compared to 2.85 percent of total soil volume), according to data analysis from the National Soil Project published in Advances in Agronomy by Misiewicz and others. The four key practices that emerged to improve soil health outcomes include (cover crops); (organic amendments); (rotation), diversity and length; (tillage). Specifically, organic soils are richer in humic acids, the compounds that give the top layer of soil its rich brown color. .

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