Importance of Soil Fertility
Fertility management should be the focus of every successful farm. This is the main component of sustainable agricultural systems, and is even more important when dealing with small-scale, intensively cultivated ground. Good soil fertility is not only crucial for sufficient yields, but also boosts nutrient content of crops, creates healthy plants that fend of pests and disease, increases the microbial activity in the soil, and lessens weed pressure. What results from a sound fertility management plan is increased revenue, decreased labor hours, and more nutritious food.
Sources of Fertility
Fertility is often measured in amount of usable nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K), which are the primary macronutrients required for healthy plant growth. Complete sources of fertility will also provide a variety of micronutrients and minerals that increase plant vigor, boost nutrient content, and enhance the usability of other nutrient sources.
of usable nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K), which are the primary macronutrients required for healthy plant growth. Complete sources of fertility will also provide a variety of micronutrients and minerals that increase plant vigor, boost nutrient content, and enhance the usability of other nutrient sources.
Fertility can be imported or produced on-farm and can take a variety of forms. Compost, either from plant or animal waste, can provide many easily accessible nutrients. Compost can be produced on-farm, using waste material from vegetable, fruit, and animal production. Commercial fertilizers can be produced using animal sources, such as poultry, horse, or cattle manure, or plant sources, such as kelp or alfalfa meal. Each fertilizer is formulated to offer a specific ratio of N:P:K and should be applied based on the needs of your soil.
Cover Crops and Fertility
Cover crops play a large role in fertility management for farms of all sizes. In addition to offering soil stabilization and water conservation effects, leguminous cover crops fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil in a usable form for future growth. Other cover crops improve soil texture and increase organic matter, as well as draw and hold nutrients for later plantings.
Soil tests are great way of understanding the fertility needs of your growing plots. Many state universities and private firms offer comprehensive soil testing throughout the year. These tests will often provide you with your nutrient and organic matter levels, which will drive decisions on how to manage fertility.
Four Season Tools offers a variety of tools and supplies that help manage soil fertility. From soil thermometers and compost forks for farm-made fertility to a large selection of fertilizers, composts, and potting soils, we can provide you with what you need to make your farm as productive and regenerative as possible. Visit our online store or contact us for more details on our offerings.