What techniques to use to make the soil more productive?

A productive soil is the most important resource for any activity carried out in the field. Every crop needs it to grow and develop, just like cattle, which needs it for growth.

However, there are cases in which the lack or insufficiency of some nutrients weaken and retard the development of plants, which consequently begins to show symptoms of nutritional deficiency.

To prevent this from happening, it’s essential that each farmer demands special care with quality, keeping the productive soil on their property, always in the nutritional standards required by the plants.

Features that decrease soil efficiency

Over time, due to improper management, the tendency is for the soil vigor to decrease considerably and become less productive. This is what we call soil degradation. There are several characteristics that can cause this degradation with the consequent decrease in its quality.

In the first place, the soil can suffer degradation through chemical factors with loss of nutrients, acidification and salinization. There is also degradation due to physical events, such as loss of structure and decreased permeability due to erosion and soil compaction.

Finally, there is the process of biological degradation, which may occur due to the indiscriminate use of agrochemicals and contaminants.

However, do you know how to maintain productive land on your property?

Increase in soil productivity

Soil quality has historically been related to productivity. In many cases, quality and productivity are almost synonymous. Therefore, for the soil to be productive, its quality must be improved.

But how to do it?

Alexandrius de Moraes Barbosa, professor of the Agronomy course at the University of the West Paulista - SP, mentions that there are several agronomic techniques that make up the production systems that aim to make the soil productive.

According to the agronomist, the most used systems in Brazil are the Direct Planting System (SPD), the Direct Seed System (SSD) and the Integration of Crops and Livestock (ILP). The professional adds that "the three systems have some differences between them, however, all can make the soil more productive."

Within these systems, several techniques can be applied together to improve the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil. Regarding physical properties, Alexandrius mentions that they are responsible for structuring the soil, promoting the formation of macroaggregates, which in turn increases the infiltration of water into the soil, as well as improves root development and resistance to compaction forces, significantly reducing the effects of erosion.

Regarding the chemical part, techniques such as crop rotation and soil mulch management will increase fertility, especially in the more superficial layers, and the increase in soil fertility is related to the nutrient cycle performed by some forage species, as well as by increasing the organic matter content of the soil provided by the presence of straw, causing an increase in the CTC (Cation Exchange Capacity).

Finally, the agronomist mentions that due to soil cover, there will be a reduction in the conservation of temperature and humidity, promoting a significant increase in biological quality, both in relation to the amount of microorganisms, as well as to diversity and activity, which in turn tends to make the soil productive.

How long does it take to obtain productive land?

Soil recovery and fertility construction won’t happen overnight, this is a fact!

"Recovery can take several years," says the agronomist, who gives an example: Depending on the type of soil and the management adopted, to increase 1% of organic matter, it can take seven to ten years.

Therefore, to increase the productive potential of the soil, long-term planning must be carried out, ranging from the choice of the ideal production system for the region, to the correct installation of the production system that can support the other procedures used over the years.

Quality soil: What will I need?

It’s misleading to think that, to achieve productive soils, only one technique will be needed. Alexandrius warns that "the increase in productivity is not only through the use of an agronomic technique, but through the use of various techniques that make up the entire production system."

The teacher explains: For the chemical correction of the soil, at the time of the installation of the management system it’s recommended to be whitewashed, plastered and phosphated. This training solution is essential and will function as the basis for the implementation of the production system.

Alexandrius warns that "over the years, if the soil maintenance correction is not carried out, fertility will tend to be reduced to such an extent that it will be necessary to re-implant the system."

Machinery: Essential for soil recovery

The use of machinery is also extremely important in the search for productive soil. Therefore, it’s necessary for the farmer to have machines and implements that meet the needs of the systems.

Machines that sow straw, as well as machines that reduce soil compaction, such as scarifiers, which can be used in minimum tillage and/or reduced tillage systems, so as to control the surface compaction of the soil.

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