Soil Health Is Key

We focus on soil health. It’s the primary unifying principle behind our work. As we develop new products, it’s the first thing we consider. Every product, every step, is designed to build healthy, life-sustaining soils. Healthy soils support stronger, more resilient plants; they produce higher yields; they produce more nutritious food and forage. And, for the growers we support, they lead to higher profits.

Healthy soils require balanced soil chemistry. All farmers know the basics of NPK, but our blended fertilizers and soil amendments help producers build soils with appropriate levels of a wide range of nutrients, including calcium, sulfur and trace minerals.

Balanced plant nutrition supports healthy, diverse populations of soil microbes. Microbes draw nutrients into the soil’s food chain, making the nutrients more available for plant uptake. This ensures greater nutrient efficiency – more goes to plants and less leaches out into waterways or the atmosphere.

Soil life improves soil structure

Soil microbes are a food source for larger soil life. Bacteria, algae, fungi and protozoa are consumed by microscopic nematodes and micro-arthropods; these, in turn, are consumed by earthworms, insects and others. These diverse populations create greater resilience against pests – no one pest can gain disproportionate weight in the field. Because these life forms work the soil as they forage, they open up spaces between aggregated molecules, creating soils that look less like clay and a lot like cake. The improved soil structure allows for faster root establishment and retains more water – again offering greater plant performance and resilience.

Our cover crop seeds grow into plants that scavenge and restore nutrients – for both cash crops and microbes – and continue the process of building better soil structure. Prescriptive tillage practices avoid the kinds of deep cuts that are harmful to microbial populations. Diverse rotations offer more nutrient restoration and a hedge against aggressive pests that might linger season to season. All of these are steps our growers employ to build soil health.

Higher yields today; more viable farms tomorrow

Building soil health is not an ends in itself. At least not for our growers. It’s a powerful way to build yield. And it’s the only way to consistently, sustainably build yield over many years and decades. If we think in terms of a family, the yield gains early on help farmers generate the profits necessary to raise and educate their children. Long-term soil health improvements mean those children will inherit a farm far more valuable and productive than the one their parents first farmed years earlier.

We’ve focused on soil life for more than 30 years. As more companies come to this realization, we say: Welcome! And if the discussion of soil microbes here gets confused with stories you may see about new technologies, we draw an important distinction. We’re not selling life forms here. Rather, we are creating the circumstances in which they flourish.