Growing healthy plants starts with good soil as a solid foundation. Not only can healthy soil yield healthy crops; it can also be beneficial for the environment.
In particular, certain soil building methods can help sequester carbon dioxide to reduce the amount that exists in the atmosphere. Properly preparing soil for crops can also help conserve water to reduce the amount needed to ensure a strong crop.
Here are some ways to boost crop yields while sequestering carbon and retaining water.
Cover crops can help cut back on the rate of soil erosion and nitrogen loss while boosting organic matter. The growth of cover crops allows carbon to be pulled into the soil through the roots.
Sheet or Lasagna Composting
Sheet composting can help build soil, prepare beds for seeding, and open up new planting space, as long as appropriate field prepping is involved. Layers of cardboard, compost, and straw or leaves laid in the fall can increase soil organic matter and create more growing space for the next season. The cardboard will break down in the winter, and by the time spring comes around, the space will be ready for planting.
Decrease Time Between Crop Successions
It’s important not to delay the planting of a successive crop, which is where careful planning comes into play. Pulling existing crops and planting new ones should ideally be done on the same day to reduce soil exposure and increase yield.
When prepping beds for new successions, clean the existing crop and lay a clear plastic sheet over the bed to heat up the soil, kill weeds, and prep the bed for seeding.
Tilling may be an effective way to ward off weeds, but it can negatively affect the integrity of the soil structure. This can reduce the soil’s ability to retain water, ward off erosion, and promote the release of carbon from the soil. By adopting a till-free production method, sequestering carbon — which involves capturing and storing carbon dioxide — will be more achievable.
Image source: Ngo Minh Tuan from Pixabay