Landowner, have you ever wondered why some soil looks and smells different and seems to be full of life? Is it because one soil is just better than another? Or are there other factors at play here?
When it comes to soil, there are chemical, physical and biological processes that are present and interactive. Soil comes from rock that is weathered or broken down over time, and this breakdown is driven by temperature and water. One reason why we have some of the best soils in the world here in the Midwest is because we have adequate rainfall in order to help weather the soil. The other factor that influences the breakdown of soil is that it always has something growing on it.
How should you the landowner look at the soil health?
As you look at some of the most productive soils in the US, the Great Plains have topsoil in some cases up to three feet below the surface. But why? These soils have grown native grasses and grazed buffalo for thousands of years. This biological process is called photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, the sun’s energy is taken into the plant, captured and used. This solar energy is then converted to fixed energy and up to 60% is deposited below ground. This fixed energy source is sugars that
the plant uses in order to feed the biological system in the root zone.
The biological systems will in turn break down minerals in the soil and convert it to a nutrient form the plant can use. This process builds soil. The grasses and buffalo manure on the plains have aided this process. In the next several months I will discuss what the significance is for all three of these processes: chemical, physical and biological process that are involved in soil health. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or even give me a call. I enjoy talking with folks about these fascinating details of farming.
In the meantime, you may ask yourself, does my current tenant understand these realities? What are they doing to build soil, or are they just being users of it. Partnering with the right tenant will help you build soil and the value of your investment.