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Healthy soils: The alternative to agrochemicals for growing profitable and healthy crops

👩‍🌾 All growers have the same goal: to have a financially successful business.

Fuente: Diario La Republica (LR)

Agrochemical prices are skyrocketing and do not allow this objective to be met.


According to the report on Agricultural Production Inputs and Factors (Sipsa), presented monthly by the Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics (Dane), the five input categories analyzed had price increases of between 43% and 60% for January of this year, compared to December 2021.



This increase is due to the combination of logistical problems in moving goods from one place to another, and the high price of the dollar, the currency used to trade imports, and to this scenario is now added the fact that Russia and Ukraine are among the main suppliers of inputs for fertilizer production.



Agrochemicals: a not-so-green revolution.

 
⚠️ Synthetic fertilizers revolutionized agriculture, but today they are the breaking point.

The early 20th century saw a profound increase in agricultural production that far outstripped even the number of population increases, a movement known as the Green Revolution. During this revolution, food production soared in the face of a growing population and farmers minimized losses.

The "Green Revolution" was a renewal in the way of producing the main sources of agricultural commerce, which took place between 1940 and 1970 in the United States. This was based on monoculture production, that is, one hectare of land destined only to a single type of crop, where fertilizers and pesticides were used with greater implication, as well as the application of large amounts of water.


All this brought about the massive increase of important crops such as corn, rice and wheat, causing a total revolution in the productive sector, both for the producer and the exporter.


Today, the rising costs of synthetic nitrogen (N) fertilizers, caused by rising natural gas prices and the causes mentioned above, have caused us as humanity to panic in the face of a potentially catastrophic global food and climate crisis.


Source: Personal protective equipment, the do's and don'ts when applying agrochemicals (www.infocampo.com.ar)

The extensive use of these agrochemicals is having a considerable impact on the environment, people's quality of life and soil health around the world.


One example of this is new research shows that synthetic N fertilizers are a major driver of the climate crisis, accounting for one in every 40 tons of greenhouse gases currently pumped into the atmosphere. Although these products deliver critical nutrients to crops throughout the season, not all of the fertilizer applied is used by the plant, contaminating nearby water sources. The result is a threat to the stability of life as we know it, examples of which are ocean dead zones and coral bleaching.

The current agricultural production model affects the quality of life of rural people, causing an increase in the incidence of degenerative diseases and pollutants in their metabolisms, resulting in an increase in the incidence of health conditions. In addition, the quality of life of producers is in decline, due to the current crisis, prices continue to rise and growers' margins are affected in a significant way, leading many to abandon their productions.


It is clear that the discovery of synthetic fertilizers revolutionized food production for a growing population, but their use has also generated a climatic and now economic catastrophe for producers. It is for this reason that a growing demand for alternatives is being stimulated.



Soil Health: The end of a cycle.

 

The effort we must make is to increase productivity by different means, in addition to preserving the viability of ecosystems, protecting human health and quality of life, and protecting the environment. For all this, technological innovation and biotechnological advances are part of the key.


What is healthy soil? → 🍄 A living soil is healthy soil!


Healthy soil is one that allows plants to grow to their maximum productivity without disease or pests and with minimal or no off-farm inputs.


Figura de Geisen et al 2019. Visión general de los grupos de microbios y animales comunes que viven en los suelos.

A biologically healthy soil harbors a multitude of different organisms.


Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, amoebae, and paramecia, as well as larger organisms such as nematodes, springtails, insect larvae, ants, earthworms, and ground beetles. Most are useful to plants, as they increase the availability of nutrients and produce chemicals that stimulate plant growth.


Among the vital functions of soil organisms are:

  • Breaking down leaf litter and cycling nutrients.

  • Converting atmospheric nitrogen into organic forms and reconverting organic nitrogen into inorganic forms that plants can use.

  • Synthesize enzymes, vitamins, hormones, and other important substances.

  • Altering soil structure.

  • Eating and/or decomposing weed seeds.

  • Suppress and/or feed on soil-borne plant pathogens and plant-parasitic nematodes.



🔬 Quantifying soil health. Why is it important?

 

Healthy soil is the foundation of our global food system, but it is currently at risk. The United Nations reports that, with current practices, we have less than 60 years of arable topsoil left.


Healthy soil contains aggregates that help it bind together, preventing erosion and runoff. It can retain more water, so plants are better adapted to drought. It contains more bacteria and fungi that help plants fight diseases and pests. And healthy soil also contains more minerals and nutrients that feed plants.


Healthy soil allows for more profitable crops along with healthier food, people, and a healthier planet.

In crops, this translates to:

  • Suppressing diseases, in healthy soil, beneficial organisms suppress harmful organisms by competition, inhibition, and consumption. (decreasing and substituting pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides!)

  • Make nutrients more abundant and available at the rates at which plants require them (decrease and replace fertilizers!), which generates flavor and nutrition for animals and humans.

  • Increase plant resistance and resilience to environmental stress conditions.

  • Retain nutrients and sequester carbon, stopping erosion and leaching while mitigating climate change.

  • Break down toxins, soil organisms have the ability to degrade pesticides and capture heavy metals in their bodies so that they are not available to plants (bioremediation).

  • Build soil structure, this achieves increased rooting depth, aerobic conditions, reduced water use, and increased water holding capacity.

🤔 How can I boost my profitability by improving soil health?

 

SaBio's Soil Health Program allows you to measure soil health and alleviate specific field constraints. You will learn how to measure soil health and create your own bio-inputs with residues, guided by our labs to improve soil health status.


The key to precision regeneration is the data provided by our lab through an app that allows you to understand and monitor the soil regeneration process.


This drives you to seek improved and more sustainable soil and crop management practices. By going through this process you will be:

  • Have the tools to be profitable in the midst of the current climate and fertilizer crises.

  • Empowered to make better data-driven decisions.

  • Equipped with a greater understanding of soil health.


Consult with us for free on how SaBIO can help you make your farm more productive and competitive.











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