There has been a noticeable chill in the air as we scurry around finishing up harvest. While the fall weather has been superb, there is no denying what’s right around the corner. Silly me for thinking I could run dinner out to the field in my flip flops! I found myself thinking some not so pretty thoughts as I sunk into the soil trudging my way to the tractor; dinner in hand. Needless to say the soil felt cool and damp against my bare feet and my flip flops are in need of a good clean!
As we transition into yet another season, it’s important to remember to continually strive for biological activity in your soils. No matter your particular climate, biologically alive soils can help improve growing conditions for the next growing season. When the snow flies and the soils goes dormant, biologically alive soils will rarely go dormant.
As you can see, the snow melted on some areas but not on others. It just so happens that the fields with the warmer soils have a history of wise biological management. In addition to warmer soil temperatures, increased biological activity also increases carbon storage. Plants pull this carbon from the air, and a portion of it ends up being utilized by microbes which is then ultimately sequestered in the soil in the form of increased humus and organic matter. We know that increasing carbon levels in the soil is beneficial as it leads to improved crop performance, better water and nutrient-use efficiency, and less nutrient loss through runoff and leaching.
While we can’t control the climate in which we farm, it is good to understand how environmental conditions affect microbe diversity. Enhancing the biology of your soils is a win for the environment no matter how you look at it.
How do you protect against loss of microbial diversity? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
P.S. As part of the International Year of Soils, we will be discussing how climate can affect your soils throughout the month of November. Join the discussion right here!