Now that we’re finally receiving moisture in some parts of the state, it’s time to assess condition of our soil and determine if our current land management practices improve soil health or cause it to deteriorate. Soil health is directly related to ranch productivity and has a tremendous influence on the future life style of our children and grandchildren.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, world population is projected to increase from 7 billion in 2013 to more than 9 billion in 2050.
Fourteen million acres of prime farmland in the United States was lost to development from 1982 through 2007. Improving soil health is a key requirement for long-term, sustainable agricultural production and soil conservation is not just the farmer’s job. We all are responsibile for maintaining soil in good condition, regardless of how we use the land.
Soil Health Key Points, a fact sheet published by NRCS lists “four ways to begin your path to healthy soils” lists:
Keep it covered
A covered soil holds more water by binding it to organic matter and loses less water to runoff and evaporation. The amount of organic matter increases in soil when it is covered by vegetation and dead plant material residue. Organic matter holds 18 to 20 times its weight in water and recycles nutrients for plants to use. One percent organic matter in the top six inches of soil holds approximately 27,000 gallons of water per acre.