Soil is live. Shebreaths continuously. In this process she burns organic matter to convert it in carbon-di-oxide, which escapes as a gas in air. Constant addition of organic matter to soil builds bio-fertilizer, disease prevention activities in soil and leads to sustainable farming. Sudden addition of organic matter chemo-dynamics of soil and nitrate content are disturbed. We should aim at maintaining te organic matter first and then steadily build it over a period of time.
Dr William Albrecht once said “When the soil fertility declines, our attempts to adapt crops to a lower level of plant nutrition become a fallacy, that is, in terms of the demands of the human or animal diet”. Soil fertility is the most important consideration in sustainable farming.
We add organic matter and bio-fertilizer to soil intermittently to improve its disease prevention capacity and aim at sustainable farming. But this is not enough!
Dr Albrecht while talking about loss of soil organic matter and its restoration has said somewhere, “We have been taught that crop rotations build up soil fertility. Yet, Nature uses continuous cropping and doesn’t rotate the crops when she builds up soil fertility. We have upset the biology in that case very decidedly.”So, if a piece of land is continuously covered with vegetation, the soil in this area is getting daily dose of new organic matter. This builds the chain of activities of bio-fertilizer microbes within the soil and especially root zone. This biochemical activity of thousands of types of microbes defines the fertility of soil.
Repeated monocropping without addition of organic matter decreases the nitrate levels of soil. Addition of bio-fertilizer fixing nitrogen can’t be the solution. When we add organic matter suddenly, the soil microbes get activated. When they start growing, they trap the nitrate from the soil, so soil becomes deficient in available nitrate. The loss of organic matter represents soil compaction, which hampers the circulation of air and water and hinders tillage operations at the same time that the function of the soil in plant nutrition is disturbed.
Therefore restoration of organic matter is very important. But the virgin organic matter that has been lost was very different in nature and effects from the material considered to replace it. A low degree of saturation of the clay by the inorganic ions in the less fertile soils may be improved decidedly when we get more organic matter into those soils. When we put organic matter back into the soil, we upset this set of inorganic chemo-dynamics of the soil.
The plant root is an important factor in modifying soil fertility and source that adds organic matter to the soil. White root decay provides considerable organic matter to the soil, on which thrive the bio-fertilizer microbes. It has been shown that if the root was a protein-rich one, it exhausted the inorganic fertility of the soil to a higher degree than any non-protein root.
The essence of soil fertility and sustainable farming lies in the organic matter in soil. Soil is live and constantly using this organic matter. So ideally we should be adding new organic matter continuously. Our objective should be first to maintain the organic matter and then steadily build it at a defined pace. This will build the bio-fertilizer activity and disease resistance in soil, and make farming sustainable.