8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil

by Larry Cooper

8 SIMPLE STEPS TO HEALTHY CROP SOIL: A PREVIEW

Of course, you'll need to read this complete article to understand how and why each of these steps is essential for creating healthy crop soil, but here's a preview.

  • Understand that soil is a living system.
  • Measure and document your soil characteristics.
  • Disturb the soil structure as little as possible.
  • Bring plant diversity to the soil.
  • Keep soil covered at all times.
  • Keep living roots in the soil all year round.
  • Build soil organic matter.
  • Have a soil health plan: Review and revise it regularly.

Decline in soil health is one of the most potentially devastating world-wide crises of the 21st century, but the average person who does not farm probably never gives farm soil a second’s thought: The supermarkets are fully stocked—everything must be okay, right?

It’s not. A Reuters news headline from 2014 stated, “Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues.” The article quoted the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as saying that about a third of the world’s soil has already been degraded from chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation, and global warming. It was predicted that in 2050 the amount of agricultural land, in particular, would be only a quarter of the amount available in 1960—yet we will have 2 billion more people to feed.

What can be done about it? Quite a bit, actually; though reversing soil degradation and improving soil health is going to require changes in thinking and changes in some very hard-wired cultural practices. The 8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil that we’re about to discuss are culled from a variety of farming philosophies, some as old as time itself. You can find them in modern-era discussions of Regenerative Agriculture, Restoration Agriculture, and Conservation Agriculture, but they also draw from many aspects of “conventional” farming that were in place long before the concept of “conventional” included chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Most important, these steps are modeled on the practices followed by Nature itself in every undisturbed forest floor, unplowed prairie, and pristine mountain meadow.

The very best thing about the 8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil is that these practices can be profitably applied with good results by commercial farmers (conventional and organic), hobby farmers, community gardeners, even the “square-foot” backyard gardeners in the middle of a city. And while geography, soil type, and soil history certainly influence how the 8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil are implemented, implementing them all (and it has to be all of them) will lead to good results in all soil-based plant-growing situations.

What are the benefits of healthy soil?

Better Yields. Healthy soil produces more abundant crops of higher quality that are less susceptible to pests and diseases, more drought resistant, and better tolerant of wind, heavy rain, hail, heat, and all the other mayhem that keeps farmers up at night.

Economic Return. In addition to better yields, crops will require less chemical input in terms of fertilizers and pesticides. This won’t happen overnight, or even necessarily in the first year or two. But in the long term, growers will find their input expenditures greatly reduced.

A Farm for the Kids. Restoring health to the soil in a sustainable way means that growers will leave their kids a productive, profitable farm that the kids, in turn, can also leave in good shape for the grandkids.

Saved Planet. Though not necessarily our immediate goal, following the 8 Simple Steps to Healthy Crop Soil will increase the amount of carbon sequestered in the soil and lower CO2 levels in the atmosphere, which will help reduce global warming and give our grandkids’ grandkids a decent world in which they can live and prosper.

With these impressive benefits in mind, let’s dig deeper into how to create healthy crop soil.

Download/read the complete White Paper here.

BHN Launches “The Huma Gro Farmer” Podcast

Bio Huma Netics, Inc. (BHN), has launched a new podcast series titled The Huma Gro Farmer. The podcast features episodes on how to “grow healthy”—featuring interviews with industry leaders on specific agriculture-related topics, how to use Huma Gro® products for superior results, and best practices for using product combinations for specific crops (early podcast episodes focused on strawberries).

BHN VP of Marketing Ray Speakman said, “We’re really excited about this podcast series; it’s been a dream for us to have a platform like this where real people can help us tell the Huma Gro® story in interesting ways. Reaction to the initial episodes has been very positive, and we look forward to having a long run with this series. Episode story ideas have been coming in pretty fast, and we encourage people to leave comments and suggestions on the podcast archive page.”

The Huma Gro Farmer can be subscribed to from Apple i-Tunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and other major podcasting platforms. An episodes archive, along with subscription options, can be found on the Huma Gro® Website at https://humagro.com/podcasts/.

BHN 2018 World Conference

The biannual Bio Huma Netics, Inc. (BHN), World Conference was held November 6­–9, 2018, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Conference Center in Gilbert, Arizona. The BHN World Conference 2018 was attended by 72 Huma Gro®, Huma Gro® Turf, and Probiotic Solutions®  product distributors and users representing 18 countries.

Conference attendees were welcomed by BHN President and CEO Lyndon Smith in an opening address with a theme of “Integrity Is Power.” The conference included two days of product information and education presentations, including the official launch of the company’s new Fertilgold® Organics product line for organic agriculture. An awards banquet was held on Thursday evening, and on Friday attendees had an opportunity to tour a local farm and to go horseback riding.

Conference attendees will be receiving an email link to view and download event photos at Flickr. Presentation PDFs have been posted to the BHN Hub; presentation videos will also be posted on the BHN Hub in coming weeks.

BHN alternates its biannual World Conferences in Arizona with regional conferences held on odd-numbered years. The next regional conference will be held in Turkey in 2019.

Select the image below to play the conference theme video.

Bio Huma Netics Provides Innovative Crop Nutrition Products to China

The November 11, 2015 issue of AgroPages features an interview with Justin Smith, “Bio Huma Netics Provides Innovative Crop Nutrition Products to China.”

The article discusses our products, our introduction to the China market in 1999, our current distribution network, and the unique opportunities and challenges of China agriculture.

To read the article online, go to http://news.agropages.com/News/NewsDetail—16302.htm

What Is Soil? (Part 1.1)

by Johann Buck, PhD

This two-part article continues our 2015 series on soil as we recognize the International Year of Soils. In Part 1.1 we define soil and its formation. In Part 1.2 we’ll continue with soil texture, structure, and color.

“Daddy, which is this – soil or dirt?” That’s the question Billy asked his father in one of my favorite The Family Circus comic strips.

Let’s begin with dirt. The word “dirt” is derived from the Old Norse word “drit,” which means excrement. Dirt is what you get under your fingernails or on your clothing or shoes while working in soil.

Several definitions exist for soil. Many of those definitions are, let’s be honest, dull. (Those specific definitions of soil can be found on the USDA Soil Education Web page). The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) first defines soil as “an amazing substance.” The SSSA continues to define soil as “a complex mix of minerals, air, water, and countless microorganisms, soil forms at the surface of the land and comes in many types.” In other words, soil possesses life, it supports life, and that makes soil exciting!

Okay, so soil is alive and exciting. How does it form? What is it made of? What does it look like?

Soil Formation
CLORPT. No, that word isn’t Klingon: it stands for “Climate, Organisms, Relief (landscape), Parent material, and Time.” These represent the five major soil-forming factors.
“Climate” determines the kind of plant and animal life that reside on and in the soil. Climate also influences soil temperature, the amount of water available for weathering minerals, and the rate of chemical weathering.

“Organisms,” such as plants and animals, contribute to the formation of soil by adding organic matter. Fungal and bacterial microorganisms subsequently break down the organic matter into a semi-soluble material known as humus, while insects, earthworms, and burrowing animals aid in the distribution of humus throughout the soil. Humus contributes to both soil chemical and physical properties. Humus is composed of small particles, which results in high surface area. These small particles contribute to the soil’s ability to supply and retain essential plant nutrients. The presence of humus can also improve soil physical properties such as water-holding capacity. Humus and its benefits will be addressed in subsequent newsletter articles.

The “Relief,” or landscape, includes the slope, aspect, and position of the soil. The steepness, shape, and length of slope affects the way water flows on or off the soil. Aspect is the compass direction that a slope faces and therefore affects soil temperature. North-facing slopes in the United States, generally speaking, are cooler and wetter than south-facing slopes.

“Parent material” is the mineral and organic material from which soil formation begins. The formation of soils is a continuous process that requires thousands of years for significant changes to occur. This is why “Time” is included as one of the five soil-forming factors. It is this weathering of the parent material over time that leads to the development of the soil horizons.

Stylin’ and Profilin’
SoilHorizonsSoil forms in layers, and these layers are often parallel to the soil surface. Technically, these layers are called horizons and their formation is called horizonation. Although these horizons are related, they differ from each other chemically, physically, and biologically. There are five master horizons, each represented by a letter (see Fig. at left): O, A, E, B, and C. A sixth horizon, represented by the letter R, is used to denote the underlying bedrock. The vertical arrangement of soil horizons is known as the soil profile. Soil profiles vary from location to location, and not all soil profiles possess all five master horizons. (Expanded details for each horizon can be found in the USDA NRCS publication, From the Ground Down.) Soils on older, more stable surfaces will generally possess well-defined soil horizons. The longer a soil has been exposed to events such as rain and plant growth, the more developed the soil profile.

Methodologies exist that scientists use to describe the components and characteristics of the soil profile. These standardized soil-profile descriptions are used to decide how a soil may be used and/or predict how a soil may react to its intended use. Not only are these soil descriptions useful for farmers, they are also useful for civil engineers, ecologists, and hydrologists – to name a few.

Be sure to read part 1.2 of this article in our next newsletter. Keep growing, and make it a good day!

Dr. Buck is North America Director of Technical Services for HUMA GRO®.

Read this and other articles in the Spring 2015 issue of The Solution at http://bhn.uberflip.com/i/513498-bhn-spring-2015-newsletter. Past issues are located at https://bhn.us/newsletters/.

Solving Environmental Challenges with HUMA GRO® Products

This video is about solving the challenges of modern agriculture & crop fertility with HUMA GRO® product line: Sustainable Soil Fertility & Carbon-Rich Organic Acids, Optimal Growth Managers, Ultra-Efficient Crop Nutrition, and Zero-Residue Crop Protection.  With HUMA GRO®, growers can apply less and see more benefits from our Micro Carbon Technology®. HUMA GRO® enhances fruit quality and increases yields while being environmentally sustainable. Watch this video featuring Lyndon Smith, President/CEO.

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BHN Exporting Video


This 3 minute video gives some insight for businesses considering expanding globally to international markets! Ex-Im Bank and SBA have helped us expand our agricultural and wastewater treatment product exporting capabilities. Research your country’s export-import banking organizations and how they can help you. Where will you’re next customer come from?

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