Cover crops provide multiple potential benefits to soil health and to the following cash crops, while also helping to maintain cleaner surface and groundwater, prevent erosion and provide carbon sequestration. Cover crops improve soil physical and biological properties as well as supply nutrients to subsequent crops. They suppress weeds, improve soil water availability, and deter pests. Some cover crops are able to break up soil compaction, making it easier for the following crop’s roots to more fully develop.
With the development of industrialization and urbanization over the past two centuries, concentrations of heavy metals in the environment have significantly increased, raising concerns about the impacts to environmental, animal, and human health.
Most plants require an array of essential nutrients to flourish. Of these, three macronutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, are needed in the greatest amounts for optimal growth. While nitrogen is essential for promoting green, leafy growth during a plant’s vegetative stage, phosphorous is necessary for energy storage and utilization, root development and growth, as well as fruit and flower formation. Phosphorous in either excess or deficient concentrations in the soil can negatively impact a plant’s growth and productivity in numerous ways.
Compost tea is a liquid biological amendment containing essential plant nutrients and a complex community of beneficial microorganisms. For centuries, farmers have soaked porous “tea bags” full of compost in tubs of water, and then used the resulting liquid (compost tea) to fertilize and improve the health of their crops. While there are infinite ways to prepare compost teas, most modern methods rely on a mechanical aeration process to extract beneficial organisms from high-quality compost products.
Whether you grow inside, outside or in a greenhouse, choosing the right potting soil can determine the health and productivity of your crop. By evaluating factors such as water-holding capacity, amount of organic material and nutrient content, the informed grower can create an optimal environment for successful plant growth.