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Building Soils for Better Crops: Sustainable Agriculture

sustainable soil management

The soil condition plays a vital role in the yield quality, so you need to devote time to it constantly. At different season times, the soil may lack organic and nutrients. If this problem is not addressed, the land will be depleted, and the harvest will worsen. At the same time, healthy soil can reduce the number of used resources, for example, fertilizers, and improve plant health.

Sustainable soil management minimizes erosion of soil and keeps soil productivity, improving crop quality and reducing environmental damage.

sustainable soil management

Soil and Agriculture

Soil is one of the biosphere’s primary resources for agriculture, horticulture, and forestry. It is a substance composed of organic matter, solid minerals, gases, and liquids and can maintain a natural environment for plants.

It is necessary to remember that soil is a finite and irreplaceable resource. Therefore its degradation has disastrous consequences for the environment, agriculture, and all of humanity.

Key Soil Types in Nigeria

The soil management choice is directly dependent on its type. Consider Nigeria as an example. Most of the land is arid with sandy, well-drained soils with low organic matter content. Because of this, they do not retain water well: it is lost with the drain. As a consequence of all these factors, these areas have more scarce vegetation, which contributes to dirt degradation due to wind erosion and lowers land fertility.

Agriculture in Nigeria often suffers from a food production lack. Poor soil management makes the situation worse. Fields continuous cultivation using agricultural machinery such as tractors reduce soil quality, leaches and depletes nutrients, and leads to erosion. Thus, the Nigerian lands need special care to improve their productivity. Innovative soil management strategies, such as combining available resources with advanced agricultural systems, can help solve this problem.

Key Crops and Farming System

Cereals are one of the essential stable food crops. In Nigeria, for example, it is corn, millet, peanuts, and soybeans in some states. Farmers use cropping systems with a rotation or a mixture with one or more other crops. So, in Nigeria’s north, combinations of sorghum and millet or cowpea, millet, and sorghum most often prevail. The latter two cultures are essential for the livelihoods of the region. They are used both for food and as feed for livestock and poultry.

Three types of cropping systems dominate in Nigeria:

  • an intensive system with one-year or two-year production;
  • a less intense system with shrubs or short bush fallowing;
  • an extensive system with long bush fallowing in uncultivated areas.

The first system depletes grounds the most, reducing the content of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Because of this, such fields require additional improvements to avoid degradation and erosion. The constant expansion of farming fields worsens the land condition, and sustainable management is the only way to enhance the situation.

Sustainable Soil Management Principles

As with any technique, sustainable farming has some principles. In particular, the soil needs to be defended and extended. You can use natural fertilizers to do this. They are beneficial for the dirt, people, and the environment.

Another essential principle is the preservation of water resources. For example, selecting the appropriate plants in arid territories is vital. Contoured barriers prevent unnecessary leaks, while mulch and green fertilizers trap water in the soil. Scheduling watering times and using drip irrigation instead of standard strategies is also effective.

Sustainable soil management involves natural disease and pest control. It is safer and more optimal than chemical control. Natural methods include choosing resistant crops, planting plants at the correct distance, correct production times, etc.

Product rotation is also an essential element of sustainable management of the soil. It helps prevent disease and pests and helps preserve nutrients in the ground. As the last principle, we note that it is best to introduce new ideas in small areas to ensure they are effective.

Tips for Sustainable Soil Management

This management type can combine different agricultural practices and principles. However, these tips will help make it even more effective.

Increase organic matter

Animals and microbes play an essential role in plants’ nutrient cycle. Additionally, you can use the appropriate fertilizers and additives.

Minimize tillage

Tillage can be harmful, so it should be used point wise to solve specific problems, such as eliminating earth compaction. Active soil cultivation can increase the weed number that will compete with the plants, reducing productivity.

Keep the surface covered

Cover crops are becoming widespread in agriculture. They increase nitrogen and other nutrients’ availability and obstruct erosion from external factors like rain and wind.

Use crop rotation

Crop rotation allows you to manage the type of nutrient quantity. Thus, some crops increase their availability to other plants. This technique also prevents erosion. In particular, thanks to different length roots, plants can maintain soil resistance against strong winds and rain.

Thus, sustainable soil management significantly improves the cultivated land’s condition and safety and increases crop quality and quantity. In complex climatic regions like Nigeria, such a system is vital for evolving farming and delivering food to the local population. At the same time, sustainable management of soil reduces environmental damage, which is crucial in the face of increasing environmental problems.

 

Building Soils for Better Crops: Sustainable Agriculture

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