Soil Is Where It's At
You have probably heard me speak at length on ryegrass and soil health, my family is getting a little tired of it. But here is a really good check into what our regenerative farm practices have been doing for the soil. Here are 2 soil samples from the same field, one of the samples is from 2016 and one 2020. The difference in organic matter is incredible – 1.73% to 3.58%! This number is decreasing in fields that are tilled every year to let the carbon escape. Our main practices that build organic matter are: 1. Applying cattle manure & sawdust bedding – this field has received plenty of manure from our cattle barns every year and it’s combined with the sawdust bedding that we use to keep the cattle dry & comfortable. 2. Annual crop rotation of ryegrass & corn silage – the incredible root mass of ryegrass leaves behind a huge amount of organic matter each year. 3. Cows grazing deposit their manure during the fall/winter/spring grazing. All of these combined are making our soils visibly darker and richer.
The second number I have circled is Cation Exchange Capacity, which is a good measurement of the holding capacity of the soil. It gives us a good idea of how much nutrients and water the soil can hold. CEC improvement from 11.7 to 13.9 is huge but still leaves us lots of capacity to hold more organic matter and continue to improve the soil!
It’s exciting to have this rotation going on 280 acres of our farm and spreading to other farms. So the soil is improved and we are capturing carbon (I’ll save that for another update…)