The term agronomy has varied descriptions that all point to the same direction of crop and soil collaboration. Agronomy is defined as a branch of agriculture that deals with field-crop production and soil management. All these two entities go hand in hand to ensure food production is at most kept consistent to sort hunger frailty. Over 90% of food consumed in the world is from crops compared to the animal alternative. This brings to attention the fact that soil is the basic unit of production that supports a bigger portion of the food system in general.
This subject topic incorporates a combination of sciences like Biology, Chemistry, economics, ecology and earth science to help to bring out the correlation between crops and the soil in terms of how they support each other to sustain their quality and significance. It also entails assessing, detecting and determining whether the soil has the nutrients required to support the growth and development of crops to maturity level. Technology utility is applied to facilitate the achievement of specificity and sensitivity when doing soil tests on various components.
Let us take a focus tour on soil and explore its relevance as the motherboard for improving food production together with its immense biodiversity composition. Biodiversity is an umbrella term representing all the organic matter in the soil, water, all that grows in/on the soil and other small living organisms that have soil as their habitat. The coordination of biodiversity is what makes the soil appreciate its vast value.
Soil structure is also a crucial aspect that we cannot leave unturned. It makes observations on how soil is aggregated, its compactness and the profile hierarchy from organic horizon to bedrock horizon.
Some of the Benefits of good soil management
Applying chemical fertilizers is done using proper methods to minimize toxicity that tends to alter soil performance that is widely linked to retarding crops’ growth and attracting high-cost implications in rectifying the damage incurred.
Pests’ build-up in the soil is detected early and controlled to reduce losses during harvesting time.
Restoration of soil fertility is enhanced to improve crops’ growth rates and reaping capacity.
Weeds are controlled to make the land more productive since the crops experience less competition for nutrients from weeds.
There is less interference in the organic matter profile.
Soil structure is put into check which in turn improves soil aeration, moisture-holding capacity, and drainage.
Root penetration is promoted to enhance proper crop anchorage and soil compactness to minimize erosion.
Soil nutrients and pH are determined. This helps in directing the type of fertilizer to use. i.e. in situations, liming is to be done.
It helps in the management of terrestrial effects such as sequestration (chronic accumulation of carbon in soil)
It calls for a high level of resilience to be able to keep soils at its stable form through the initiation of actions that combat practices that deny soil its dignity in performance when it comes to crop production. Controlling how we use fertilizer regimes will help in minimizing soil pollution.
Adopting minimum tillage will help to counteract the effects of excess tillage such as exposure to vital nutrients, excess water loss due to exposure of soil to the scorching sun, and loosening of soil that succumb it erosion by run-off water.
Research indicates that the reduction of soil disturbances reduce lowers the amount of organic carbon into the atmosphere. Compared to conventional tillage (CT), NT exhibits greater potential for soil carbon sequestration, soil quality improvement, and sustained crop productivity
Climate-smart agriculture focuses on methods to maintain or increase food production while concurrently lowering emissions from agriculture and other side effects on the environment. Minimum tillage is advantageous in water-limited areas and has shown increased yields when adopted compared to conventional cultivation.
Minimum tillage through cover-cropping and mulch application also helps in preserving soil moisture, improving soil compactness; controlling erosion and growth of weeds. Organic mulch turns into manure after its decay and also acts as a substrate for soil organisms. This promotes good soil ecology alongside soil biodiversity improvement.
Adopting the use of organic manure is another way of improving biodiversity, water holding capacity, and lengthening soil fertility because it has little leaching capacity. It also causes less chemical harm to crops when applied. Initiating a circular economy to reduce physical pollution such as one caused by plastic piling up on soil, is important in maintaining good soil composition.
Practicing good agricultural routines such as contour plowing and crop rotation plays a role in controlling erosion by run-off water specifically in sloppy areas; preventing the exhaustion of nutrients and controlling the spread of pests and diseases.
All of the above information is vital to everyone practicing crop production or yet planning to invest in crop production. Conducting soil tests will also give a snapshot of soil parameters that influence its utility. Let us protect the soil and its biodiversity.