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When it rains, it pours

A quick glance at the current agricultural season 2021/2022

Once again, similar in many respects to the previous season, high rainfall figures have been reported from most of the agricultural cropping regions.

It has been interesting to note that where soils are sandy and have a notable lack of some form of structure; the consequences thereof have given rise to harvests that will be mediocre to poor in and some instances non-existent.

A key feature of many of these sandy soils that we are all too familiar with, is the inherent lack of organic matter (OM). This in turn leads to crusting and compaction amongst many other issues. The latter affects the soil’s ability to breathe and therefore provide life sustaining oxygen to plant roots and all other life forms in the soil.

Organic matter is the key to building and maintaining healthy soils because it has such a positive influence on essentially all soil properties, helping to grow healthier plants.

OM also plays a critical role in the water, nitrogen and carbon cycles. Organic matter consists mainly of living organisms in the soil, fresh residues and very well decomposed material. Each of these types of OM play an important role in maintaining healthy soils.

In many areas where farmers have practiced minimum till, no till or have followed the cover crop option, the positive effects of these practices have no doubt been experienced by numerous producers despite the very high rainfall that they have had to endure.

Building OM in the soil is key to having an ecological balance and long term sustainability in all forms of agricultural practice.

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