我们的 新报告 offers fresh insights into how farmers 可以 improve soil stewardship to more effectively protect ecosystems and communities, 更能抵御恶劣天气, 和增加产量. 该报告回顾了我们目前的调查结果 土壤健康基准best365官网登录—the largest and most diverse community science project studying soil health in the country.
我们从2016年开始学习, 我们与包括康奈尔土壤健康实验室在内的合作伙伴进行了合作, 未来收获和百万英亩挑战, 宾夕法尼亚州立大学扩展, 罗德学院, 斯特劳德水best365官网登录中心, 以及100多头放牧牲畜, 中耕作物, 以及宾夕法尼亚州和马里兰州的菜农, 收集和分析土壤样品和田间管理记录.
集体, these soil samples and field records shed light on the nuanced soil health strengths and challenges that 可以 exist simultaneously within the same field—and what farmers 可以 do about it. 下面是我们的发现.
我们的 study’s most remarkable revelation challenges a popular theory among farmers and other industry professionals positing that eliminating tillage is always necessary for achieving optimal soil.
我们发现, while most no-till farms participating in our study did indeed have optimal soil health, farms that rely on tillage for controlling weeds and preparing fields were also capable of achieving optimal soil health. These farms likely accomplished this by balancing tillage with a holistic soil health management strategy, 这可能包括种植覆盖作物, 旋转作物, 正确校准土壤改良剂, and carefully timing tillage operations to avoid excessively wet or dry soil conditions.
大多数免耕农民能够通过依赖来避免耕作, 在某种程度上, 用除草剂控制杂草和终止覆盖作物. 然而, because of the escalating prevalence of herbicide-resistant weeds and growing public health and environmental problems associated with herbicide use, 连续免耕未必总是一种可持续的土壤健康管理方法.
While some farms and farming organizations are experimenting with organic no-till methods, this approach remains largely elusive to most organic farmers who typically depend on at least some “steel in the field” to effectively control weeds and prepare beds for planting. 我们的发现为农民提供了乐观的消息, since we’re learning that there are many paths toward optimal soil health—many of which are more practical than we might have previously imagined.
许多蔬菜best365官网登录, 还有一些行作物best365官网登录, 在参与我们的best365官网登录时，他们的田地里磷含量很高. 通过径流和侵蚀, excessive 磷 可以 pollute streams and estuaries by causing blooms of algae that exhaust oxygen from the water and kill other life forms. 在全球范围内, 磷是一种不可再生资源, 从全球有限的矿藏中开采. 一旦磷消失在河流中，在浩瀚的海洋中被稀释, 未来几代人无法再使用它了.
对蔬菜的农民, excessive 磷 可以 also signifi可以tly weaken crop vigor by inhibiting a plant’s uptake of vital micronutrients, 哪些因素会阻碍作物生长并增加害虫的易感性. 在我们best365官网登录的大多数情况下, 高磷水平可归因于重肥料或堆肥投入, 常用于超过作物需要的地方. Better aligning fertilizer inputs with soil test results will not only save farmers money and improve yields, 它还将改善水质.
我们的 study also provides a glimpse into how climate change will present new challenges for soil stewardship in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. In 2018, 这个季节是由历史上的降雨总量决定的，其中大部分是强降雨, concentrated doses—we observed a 60% and 54% drop in aggregate stability on 中耕作物 and vegetable farms, 分别, 在宾夕法尼亚和马里兰.
While most of these farms were able to partially or substantially rebuild their aggregate stability the following season, 哪一种天气和野外工作条件更适宜, it’s likely that extreme rainfall events and consistently wet seasons will become more common in the region. 没有急需的缓解潮湿天气的办法, maintaining healthy soil structure that’s resistant to erosion could be a signifi可以t ongoing challenge for farmers.
Planting fibrous-rooted cover crops and developing other soil management strategies that anticipate more frequent wet weather may be key for protecting and building soil aggregate stability.
Both organic vegetable farms and no-till 中耕作物 farms were consistently outpaced by pastured livestock farms. While it might be unfair to compare annual crop farms to farms that maintain fields of deep-rooted perennial forage, pastured livestock farmers 可以 nonetheless take pride in their superior soil health performance.
Perennial pastured livestock farms achieved optimal scores for every soil health indicator we measured, 几乎在我们测量的所有领域. 大多数
很多方面的健康, 但, 正如上面提到的, 通常表现出低团聚稳定性和高磷的挑战.
我们的报告进一步细化了各种生物指标的基准, 化学, 物理土壤健康指标, 比如有机物水平和微生物活性, 以及现场管理基准, such as overall tillage intensity and the number of days farmers maintain living cover in their fields. 集体, these benchmarks provide a holistic picture of a soil’s strengths and problem areas.
几十年来,, 并一直延续到今天, soil health testing labs have primarily focused on measuring a soil’s 化学 attri但es—levels of acidity; nitrogen, 磷, and potassium; and micronutrients. 这为农民提供了一些关于土壤肥力的基本信息, 如此狭窄的分析范围提供了一个高度有限的, 而且经常误导, 了解土壤真正的健康状况.
批判性的, 这种方法没有考虑到大量的其他属性, 比如土壤是否能抵抗侵蚀, 或有益微生物存在的程度. 与此形成鲜明对比的是, our study employs a holistic approach to soil testing that measures not only a soil’s 化学 health, 还有它的生理和生物健康.
While the benchmarks outlined in our report paint an overall positive picture of the state of farmers’ soils, it’s important to note that our study does not reflect a representative sample of agriculture in the Mid-Atlantic region. Many of the farmers participating in our study have worked to hone their soil-building practices over many years, 并处于创新土地管理的前沿. 我们的 findings should therefore be understood in terms of “what’s possible” when farmers are committed to soil stewardship and are supported by 技术服务提供商 and their peers as they work to fine-tune their field management practices.
We expect this report to be the first of a series of soil health benchmark reports that we will publish periodically to help farmers, 技术服务提供商, 科学家们, 政策制定者, 社区更好地了解土壤健康以及如何最好地保护它.
我们的 土壤健康基准best365官网登录 was initially made possible thanks to generous financial investments from Lady Moon Farms, 杰瑞·布鲁内蒂一家, 肖恩·瑟雷一家, and more than 120 individual donors committed to supporting farmers’ efforts to build and preserve soil health.
通过威廉·佩恩基金会提供了更多的支持, 希尔曼基金会, 宾夕法尼亚州农业部, 以及美国农业部节约创新赠款项目.