Rainfall is one thing landowners cannot control. That’s the bad news. But, here’s the good news. The amount of rainfall is not the determining factor when it comes to soil health. Rather, it’s the rainfall retained that truly makes a difference. Here are the 5 principles to help maximize every drop of moisture and optimize soil health.
- Soil armor: This means exactly what one would imagine. The key here is to keep the soil covered by leaving some residue or grass. Cover helps the soil keep moisture, while leaving bare ground gives the soil no chance to hold onto the precious commodity of rainfall.
- Minimize soil disturbance: Work on a system to reduce tillage and avoid continuous overgrazing . When we damage the soil’s natural cycle, it takes away from things such as nutrients. When we protect the soil ecosystem, we gain the benefits naturally given by soil.
- Plant diversity: Think variety here, and work with blends. Bamert experts can help you embrace the practice of diversity and perk up surroundings with a variety of grasses, forbs or woody plants. Certain native grasses and plants compliment others, and we’re happy to direct you to what will work best for your project. Nature abounds when there is a symbiotic relationship. Remember, biodiversity deals with plants both above and below the ground. Crop rotation, cover crops and grazing animals all help add something to the soil.
- Maximize actively growing plants and roots:: You want to keep something living in that soil all the time. This means you always want to have a rotating crop and should never leave soil unplanted. Planting a diverse blend of both cool season and warm season perennial plants is a great way to accomplish this. Living roots fix soil, support the microbiology of soil and lead to soil longevity.
- Livestock integration: When you add livestock to your pastures, you add value to that field because animals keep the soil living. From aerating to fertilization, livestock of any kind benefit your soil. Contrary to popular belief, it does not have to just be cows, it can be virtually any animal, including goats, sheep or horses. Simply put, “adding life adds life.”
The main takeaway is to remember it’s not what falls from the sky, but what you keep in the ground. These practices help you not only manage but also maintain a vibrant, healthy soil to keep your ecosystem thriving, no matter the rainfall.