Regenerative, restorative, and climate-smart agriculture — they’re all terms with roots firmly planted in farmers’ commitment to improving soil heath.
Farmers who subscribe to these philosophies typically commit to five core practices: minimizing soil disturbance, maximizing soil diversity, keeping soil covered, maintaining living roots year-round, and integrating livestock. But how quickly should farmers be integrating these practices into their farm management approach?
Independent plant and soil health educator Joel Williams recommends farmers make the leap, but they need to understand what works when adopting regenerative practices, says the healthy soils advocate who shared his message at the recent Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario (IFAO) annual conference at London, Ont.
“Start by minimizing soil disturbance and move a little bit more diversity into the system,” says Williams. He believes as farmers take those steps they get more confident and see the potential of what can be done to make broader and more systematic changes to how they manage their soil.
Farmers typically invest heavily in understanding seed genetics, fertilizer, and crop protection products to make the best input decisions for their farm. In this interview with RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, Williams suggests farmers also need to invest in knowing their soil. He believes investing in soil knowledge allows farmers to make smarter decisions, allowing for more effective and profitable use of crop inputs.