What is essential for soil fertility and crop health?

22/12/2017

Simply put, good soil is the foundation of sustainable farming. It’s essential for the growth of healthy plants and crops, and maintaining the health of animals.

Good soil is rich in nutrients like magnesium, calcium and phosphorus, and thriving with microbes and earthworms, which helps plants to develop healthy fibrous root systems. Healthy soil is porous, allowing for movement of air and water and infiltration. Having well-aerated soil is vital for crop growth.

Not having this foundation in place results in degradation of the soil, which is quickly becoming a global crisis. Unhealthy soil leads to low nutrient availability, and reduces the soil’s ability to hold and filter water.

With this in mind, what elements contribute to soil fertility, and subsequently the production of food?

The foundation of good soil can be broken down into the 4 M’s:

  • Minerals
  • Moisture
  • Microbes
  • Mulch

These elements are crucial to the sustainability and productivity of organic farming. Taking each M into consideration, we can understand how each element is beneficial to soil life and how they work in combination:

Minerals

The right balance of minerals and trace elements provide the ideal soil nutrients for healthy plants and crops, and help to stimulate increased microbial and earthworm activity. Soil minerals adjust soil pH levels, help plants to absorb water and provide nutrients. The six essential macronutrients that plants need from soil minerals are as follows: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulphur and calcium.

Moisture

Healthy soil is reliant on its ability to retain water and nutrients. The inability to efficiently retain moisture could be down to poor porosity, where the pore spaces are not adequate. Waterlogged soil leads to flooding, while the effects of dry soil adds stress to the plant roots, adversely impacting on its growth.

Microbes

Microbes are also essential to the formation of good soil. They are fundamental in the decomposition of organic matter, recycling dead plant material, releasing chemicals to aid the growth of new plants. Unfortunately, due to years of overusing fertilisers, pesticides and modern tillage systems, we’ve witnessed devastating levels of topsoil erosion, resulting in the loss of microbes.

Mulch

Mulch is used as a soil covering to help retain moisture, protect plants and roots and prevent weeds from forming.

Our organic soil conditioner, SafeRock® Minerals, is a natural resource that contributes to 3 out of the 4 M’s above – Minerals, Moisture and Microbes.

SafeRock® Minerals is made from a unique blend of minerals and nutrients that rebalances the trace elements and minerals in depleted soils. Our trial data has shown that it improves water retention in sandy and clay soils, and feeds microbes and earthworms, enhancing the sugar levels in grasses, plants and crops.

We’re thrilled with the data we’ve gathered over the years testing SafeRock® Minerals. By working with the 4 M’s, we’ve developed a product that effectively provides a natural solution to the global crisis of soil degradation.

You can find out more about our SafeRock® Minerals trial results here.