Voices: Soil Fertility

We asked farmers: What do you do to maintain and improve soil fertility?

May 9, 2015

Issue 12: May/June 2015Voices

The foundation for maintaining healthy soil is well-balanced compost that has transmuted into a humus-like state. The consistent seasonal application of the compost to the soil builds humus which, due to its colloidal structure, holds the nutrients for slow release through the action of a diverse population of beneficial fungi and bacteria which make the nutrients available to the plants.

Jon McNamara, River Road Farm

We use a product called Bactifeed; they are living organisms that we brew in a solution and then we distribute it in our water and out to our fields. I’m one of the Arizona distributors, because it’s great for our small-scale farms. It is a shotgun approach to [introducing] microorganisms. Twelve different strands go out into the soil. Water stays in the soil longer; it breaks down compost; it buffers the salt.

Michael McKenzie, Lucky Nickel Ranch

We have plenty of chickens and goats, which means we can make great quality compost here on the farm. That, in addition to proper crop rotation and the recent implementation of a no-till system, helps us grow our beautiful crops. We are also hoping to start a worm operation soon for even better soil fertility and water retention.

Sofia Forier-Montes, Felicia’s Farm

We believe the key to creating and maintaining fertile soil is in organic matter. We try to maximize organic matter by utilizing crop rotation and cover crops. Additionally, we periodically inject a number of microbial inoculants through our drip irrigation system.

Aaron Cardona, Arevalo’s Farm

At SouthWinds Farm, we maintain soil fertility through applications of compost and the use of cover crops to increase soil nutrients and organic content. We also rotate our crops. Since we are growing year round, we have to pay very close attention to our soil conditions.

Joe Marlow, SouthWinds Farm

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