was once said that soil is only a medium used to
hold the plants upright. With the event of the
green revolution people discovered that with the
aid of artificial fertilisers and chemicals, crops
could be grown in all sorts of soils no matter how
poor they were. This is true to a point.
we implemented IPM and started looking at
sustainable farming we learnt that the soil is
playing a far more important role than we thought.
Basically you need a living soil to produce living
crops in a sustainable way.
of the key things that is needed in soil is
organic matter, something that is lacking in most
Australian soils. Organic matter helps soil to
retain moisture and at the same time improves
drainage allowing more air into the soil, this
then provides a habitat in which an enormous
amount of insects and micro-organisms can live.
These living creatures feed off the organic
matter, converting it into food for plants,
therefore producing a healthier plant. Healthy
plants, that are growing free of stress, are able
to then defend themselves better against pest and
disease pressures. Getting the basics right first
helps to make the job much easier all the way down
such as this, that is full of life also then
supports other life in the surrounding
environment, such as birds feeding on worms, hawks
feeding on birds etc. adding to a richer
environment all round.
the richness of organic matter in the soil we are
also able to better control erosion as it is less
likely to blow away in the wind or erode by too
much water run-off. Whenever we have a paddock
empty for a considerable period of time we will
always grow a cover crop on the soil so as to
protect against erosion and this also keeps the
soil environment alive. So with all this in place
our soil actually improves over time becoming more
and more productive.
tillage is also something that we are looking
into. Minimum tillage is basically a method of
growing crops without excessive soil tillage
(ploughing). This can assist in moisture
preservation and allow the natural organic
layering of the soil to stay in tact. We are
experimenting with ways in which we can apply this
into our vegetable production.