Agricultural conservation refers to a set of farming practices that makes the best use of resources available while maintaining soil quality and integrity, water levels, and tending to other environmental factors. While conservation-based agriculture is one of the key trends right now, many of its practices date back to the roots of agriculture itself.
In the current ecological condition, conservation of any form has become a primary need. With the environmental crisis at our heels, all farmers need to ensure that they are not damaging the ecosystem they thrive in. The soil is above all and every farmer must strive to protect its quality.
In this article, we will be taking a look at 5 of the popular conservation agriculture methods that you can adopt into your farming process.
This is a very simple technique which involves planting of mostly non-commodity crops such as leafy vegetables in between harvest periods. The usual time for cover cropping is between fall and spring, but you can decide the best period for you based on your harvest schedule. Cover cropping helps with maintaining soil quality, increases nitrogen levels in the soil, reduces erosion, and also helps combat weed problems. Cover cropping is also considered to be a healthy alternative to fertilisers and herbicides.
Modern tillage systems have proved to be highly efficient in this regard. The traditional technique of plough tillage proves to be harmful in the long run as it breaks down the soil integrity. It also makes the farming process dependent on herbicides as a form of weed control. While many suggest a no-till process, for those who require a smooth seedbed a shallow tillage process helps counter these problems and provides effective weed removal solutions as well.
The Kelly Tillage System with its disc-chain mechanism is one of the best shallow tillage tools you can find in the market. It also helps cut down stubble and prepare the perfect seedbed with ease.
This is another simple practice that involves planting a certain order of crops throughout the year to ensure nutrients remain intact within the soil. Crop rotation also helps reduce insect-related problems and plant diseases. Crop rotation is a very old conservational farming technique, and while it is not entirely possible for many it can be used to a certain extent by every farmer. And if you are of the thought that some of the crops will not provide you profits worth the effort you put in, you can always sell your produce at local markets and in the long run, you will save a ton on pesticide and fertiliser costs.
Water is one of the primary resources to any farmer and the better one controls it the more conservationist their process will be. Controlled drainage involved creating a drainage around and through the field to ensure all runoff water is collected and then reapplied to the field. This can heavily impact the nitrogen content of the soil which is mostly lost through water runoff. There are various forms of conservation drainages depending on the farm conditions and requirements, so make sure you are using the most optimised one.
The usage of fertilisers does not need to be completely negated. However, one should ensure that they are mostly sticking to non-chemical options and also using it as scantily as possible. It is the timing and quantity of fertiliser usage that impacts the soil quality. Otherwise, the usage of manure to increase soul fertility has been an age-old practice.
These are 5 very basic and widely used conservation farming methods that you should try. If you are adopting a conservation-based method, you will not only be benefitting yourself but also the soil and the environment at large. The easiest way is to start with the Kelly tillage system and change your entire approach towards tillage, seeding, and weed and stubble removal. You should be able to get one at your local farm shop with ease.
Remember that it is all of our duty to give back to nature, and conservation farming is one of the key ways to do so.