Great 1st day! It’s great to see local folks getting fired up about soil health in spite of the relative void of “experience” and research in this area. The dependance on furrow irrigation is a specific obstacle that needs to be dealt with here and producers are highly unlikely to be able to change out their irrigation systems any time soon no matter how much they would like to. They have to find ways to make it (soil health principles) work with furrow irrigation. There is talk of developing a demonstration farm specifically for this area. Exciting! – We’ll see where it goes.
Here are some concepts that were articulated well by Ray Archuleta that I specifically liked:
– Conventionally farmed soils are addicted to fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides. To get them healthy again it takes a transistion period to help them heal from that addiction.
– Soils are “sub-aquatic”. Yeah, you read that right. The soil biology are essentially aquatic organisms. They live in the film of water around all the particles in the soil. They should also be considered our “underground livestock”, and we should care for them as such. As a soil scientist I know we have aquic and sub-aquic soil concepts but not in this sense. We’d better keep that straight in our heads. 😉
– Cover crop cocktails – can you say functional diversity? Diverse cover crop species are extremely beneficial because of their synergistic effects with and on each other.
That’s all for now. Hopefully I have time for some more input tomorrow. In the next couple days I’m looking forward to hearing from some local producers who have been impementing soil health building practices.