15May

Regulating Moisture Availability

Saving for a not so rainy day

Did you ever wonder why some fields have pools of water standing in them in the spring while others, which may be right across the road, do not?

Its all about water management. Mother Nature dumps a pile of rain in the spring and whether your fields have adequate infiltration and water hold capacity characteristics is nearly 100% dictated by the amount of organic matter contained therein.

When Mother nature gives the gift of rain, the soil will do one of two things: soak it up or let it run off. Once rain runs off your field, it can never be brought back. If your soil soaks it up, it stores it until it needs it during the dry part of the season.  If it runs off, it is lost for the season and your crops will suffer.

Imagine this: every 1% of organic matter in each acre of soil will store over 68,000 litres of water.

What is the % of organic matter contained in your soils? If its below 8%, you have room for imrovement. Using cover crops helps to limit the amount of organic matter that oxidizes from the soil when it is bare during non-growing parts of the year. Incorporating crop residues and feeding soil microbes so they break down this organic material into organic matter quicker will help to build your organic matter levels faster.

Expect the building of organic matter to be a long and difficult process.  Ask yourself in everything that you do. "Is this helping to build organic matter?" If the answer is "no", then stop doing whatever it is. 

Posted in Dave de Vries

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