HEALTHY SOILS = CLEAN WATER
When soils are healthy, they have a greater ability to retain water and improve a crop’s ability to uptake nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus instead of having them runoff and pollute local waterways.
“We've gotten so into high yields that it gets to be an ego thing, but there's a mid-point there where you may not get the highest yield, but you get the yield that you need at a decent cost.
“You could move the soil up with a lot of anhydrous ammonia or nitrates and get a high yielding field, but is that good for the environment and for the soil, for the water? No, it isn't.
Using a soil probe, Cory takes ten core samples per twenty acres, then mixes them together and performs a field analysis, which looks at phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and pH. A similar analysis is also taken on manure at Ken’s dairy to determine how much can be spread as fertilizer to achieve optimum yields while safeguarding against runoff.
FOR DAIRYMEN LIKE KEN, THE PROPER APPLICATION OF MANURE-BASED FERTILIZERS AS WELL AS THE USE OF COVER CROPS, COMPOST, REDUCED TILLAGE, AND DIVERSIFIED CROP ROTATIONS CAN ALL CONTRIBUTE TO IMPROVED SOIL HEALTH.
Compaction from years of plowing makes it harder moisture to penetrate deep into the soil. Reducing compaction allows roots to go deeper into the soil to get access to moisture. As microbial life builds, it can help retain nutrients, and keep soil from washing away during rain events. Reducing erosion is one of the many ways to improve water quality, and a 1% increase in soil organic matter (a measurement of soil health) can result in a 15,000 gallon increase per acre in water storage.