In last month’s post, we looked at the importance of the soil in our lives. At Freedom Foods, we believe that we are called to be good stewards of our resources—especially our soils. Here are three of our favorite ways that we practice good soil management.
- Cover crops. After the main growing season is over, we sow our leftover radish and turnip seed in the fields to serve as a cover-crop. These cold-weather vegetables will grow through the late fall and into the winter, capturing the nitrogen that would otherwise have been lost over the winter if the field had been left bare. In the spring, the remains of the radishes and turnips will be plowed under, releasing nitrogen into the soil for the summer’s crop to use. A cover crop like this also holds the rich topsoil in place during the rains and winds of the winter, stopping erosion.
- Proper tillage. Plowing the fields is necessary to provide a soft, well-aerated soil for plant roots to take hold in, but too much tillage can harm the organisms that are part of a healthy soil. Earthworms, for example, are harmed when a field is plowed repeatedly. At Freedom, we try to limit our tillage so that the earthworms can naturally aerate the soil and recycle nutrients for plants to use.
- Organic matter application. Humus—the dark black dirt found at the top of the soil profile—is key to a fertile soil. One of the ways that we build this up is by adding worm castings, which is essentially natural matter that has been highly decomposed by earthworms. It is completely natural and it has so many benefits for the soil, such as increasing the water-holding capacity and improving soil structure.All of these three practices help restore the nutrients that were used by the summer’s crops and improve the soil structure so that we can maintain a healthy soil that is always ready for next year’s growing season!
All of these three practices help restore the nutrients that were used by the summer’s crops and improve the soil structure so that we can maintain a healthy soil that is always ready for next year’s growing season!
Poor soil management contributed to the devastating Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Image Source