Reserve a whole or half pig today for filling the freezer this fall!

What is Regenerative Ag anyways? Soil Health Principle 2

written by

Megan Wilcox

posted on

August 9, 2020

Principle #2

The second principle is to maintain armor from plants and plant residues on the soil’s surface. 

In the last Blog Post, you learned about the carbon cycle and limiting disturbance. If soil is bare you should try to maintain at least a mulch covering to allow the carbon cycle to continue, aid in the mineral exchange, and help protect any soil from washing away.

What happens to the bare soil if you don’t plant anything on it? Around here the weeds will grow up. They are nature’s built-in emergency response team and can survive in less than perfect conditions. Their goal is to cover the ground... And you know they’re good at their job. If weeds don’t even grow well (especially in drier climates) it’s a sure sign of a dysfunctional ecosystem.

 It’s sad but desertification is happening at an alarming rate and there are places back in the 1800s that have accounts with grasses that were as tall as a rider on top of their horse, and those places are now close to desert. Around here we are lucky to get a good amount of annual rainfall but more recently a lot of that has turned to flash floods because we don’t have the soil infrastructure to handle filtering it when it dumps at high rates.

Armoring the soil ensures the ground temperature stays cool, inhibits weeds growth by allowing a more ideal situation for more desirable plants, provides organic matter that worms cycle through, reduces evaporation rates (so even a morning due is soaked up and stored), and is home to millions of microorganisms. Often Soil temps staying low is often overlooked and wildly important. 

I’ve learned through mentors that when SOIL temps are 

 at  70 Degrees - 100% of any soil moisture is available for plant growth. 
 At 100 Degrees - only 15% is available for growth and the remaining 85% is lost due to evaporation and transpiration.
 At 130 Degrees 100% of the soil moisture is lost due to evaporation
 At 140 Degrees Soil bacteria die. 

Please watch this 2-minute video to see a real-world example with a temperature gun. Then try it outside in your own yard or neighborhood!

It's only a 2-minute video here

How we make a difference- We follow these sets of principles (you now know 2 of the 5) to the best of our ability and believe regenerative agriculture is the key to providing a lasting and healthy ecosystem and economy. We don’t ever spray anything, till anything, and we rotational graze. We follow a principle first approach and practices second, meaning we don’t just blindly follow a set of rules, but rather change our practices to achieve a principle or goal. So as the weather changes our grazing and animal moving patterns change with it. I’ll get into how we graze in a later post and principle.

Because this goes along with Principle 1 & 2 I wanted to go further into how spraying is so bad for us and our planet. 

Spraying, it doesn’t just kill the pest. For every 1 targeted pest, you could be killing upwards of 120 or more beneficial soil organisms.

 Over 98% of sprayed insecticides and 95% of herbicides reach a destination other than their target species because they are sprayed or spread across entire agricultural fields. Cancer anyone?

Over application of nitrogen fertilizer creates Nitrous Oxide (a very potent greenhouse gas) - a big reason that agriculture is such a big contributor to global warming. 

Nitrogen fertilizer also increases bacteria species. Without a source of carbon to balance them the bacteria literally eat themselves out of house and home (consuming more humified forms of carbon in the soil and turning them to CO2). 

Well that's all I've got for you today, Officially taking my teacher hat off now. I hope you watched the plants are cool video and go outside and “test” your area! It’s so cool and will stick with you.


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