When it comes to sustainability on the farm, some of the most important details focus on maintaining soil quality and fending off weeds and vermin. There are many sustainable practices that can save commercial farms money just by changing the details of an operation. Many practices are fairly simple, and some can save work as well as money. The bottom line is the goal of agricultural practices that work cooperatively with nature rather than averse to it.
This should be no surprise to anyone in the farming industry, as it is not a new concept. When the same crop is grown in the same soil, the plants constantly draw out the same nutritional soil year after year. Over time, this results in empty soil which can even become useless for growing any type of crop. Fertilizing helps artificially refresh the soil, but it’s an expensive bandage over a big problem.
By rotating crops, each season of plants takes different combinations of nutrients out of the soil. The right assortment of crops can greatly boost the overall health of the soil by complementing each other’s needs. Additionally, in off-seasons, you can grow cover plants than leaving fields barren. This is better for the environment and helps ward off weeds naturally. Lastly, the life cycles of plants such as clover and hairy vetch contribute to the nutrients and health of the soil as well.
Cut Out the Middleman
One thing that always slices into profits is coming up with funds for outsourced supplies. Most important are the fertilizers used to refresh and tend the soil quality. Every year, acreage needs to be brought up to the right nutrient values, which can differ dramatically depending on the crop being planted. Composting is an effective way for a commercial farm to turn waste into a steady supply of homegrown soil nutrients.
Furthermore, the process of composting can be transformed into rapid mass production. The compost can be carefully tailored to each plant using specific types of bacterial colonies and supplemental teas. Extra material that hasn’t been turned into the land can also be sold, turning what was once a cost into a regular profit.
Mixing in animals and wildlife is an amazing sustainable practice that can save farms money. Besides changing up what grows on the fields, you can add other profitable trees and shrubs around the farm. These shade and food-bearing plants support the wildlife and farm animals. Cultivating beneficial plants along prairie and riparian buffers can boost the population of local pollinators and help build a healthy and sustainable farm.
Reducing tillage can also have a profound effect on biodiversity. The earth is naturally threaded with animal and insect burrows that are harmless to farms and can even fend off other more problematic animals. Additionally, a complex matrix of plant and fungi roots provides even more nutrients through their life cycle and by adding structure to the soil. Tilling destroys these benefits and contributes to erosion on top of lifeless soil.