Image Credit: Pexels
Crop yields are essential to any agricultural business. The better a crop, the more you make in a good year. If you can reliably increase yields and, effectively, improve the health of your soil and fields, you’ll have more good years.
The following three suggested ways to improve crop yields are repeatable and will continually improve field health over time. That means increased returns year-to-year with constant upkeep. Further, none of them are cost-prohibitive for even the smallest farms or market gardens and scale up well for large-scale row crop operations.
Cover Crops and Crop Rotation
Cover crops, when used with a simple crop rotation strategy, have been reported to increase overall yields and, in particular, to increase the crop yields of corn and soybeans while boosting field health over time.
There are a variety of cover crops available to suit the needs of any situation. While many inoculants act as a field fertilizer and help control unwanted weeds, others can be used to balance the nutrient content the soil, create a better environment for the crop to follow, and produce a feed source for livestock all at the same time. This ability to multitask often makes choosing to plant a cover crop an ideal choice. It’s the best way to make the most of the land you have.
Mycorrhizal Fungi-Based Bio Inoculants
This is the easiest method any farmer could use to boost crop yields. Biological inoculants, like those with mycorrhizal fungi, help balance the biosphere of the soil. Crop-specific inoculants can be applied to soil or seed to give them a boost at the beginning of their life.
This boost can help the plants better absorb nutrients from the fertilizers applied, that which naturally exists in the soil, or those which are effectively created by the organisms the inoculant introduces. Further, inoculants have been shown to help a variety of crops, including soybeans, develop a stronger root system while pepper plants create stronger stalks. Due to the increased nutrient absorption and more resilient structure, these plants then require as much as 25% less water and make efficient use of any fertilizer applied.
Using the Right Fertilizers on Schedule
This may be the most fundamental strategy of all. Anyone, gardener or farmer, knows that to make the most of a crop you need to fertilize it appropriately. The fertilizer or blend you use will depend on what you’re growing, what is naturally in the soil, what your cover crops have provided, and if you’ve applied any treatment to the ground or seeds.
Once you know what you’re using you, need to keep track of the timing. At first, you’ll rely on the seed and soil treatments you have selected. Then you can apply a slow-release mulch. After your plants have turned into healthy seedlings, you can use liquid fertilizer. Later in the growing season, a second helping of slow-release fertilizer may be applied if the soil needs it after testing. Avoid over-fertilizing with a strict testing schedule and by maintaining a healthy soil biosphere.