Oregon Organic Farmer Unlocks Soil Health Secrets and Boosts Production

For agricultural producers, it’s an age-old question: How do you grow the largest, healthiest, most-profitable crops possible? Oregon organic farmer Chris Roehm says the secret is in the soil.

Co-owner and operator of Square Peg Farm in Forest Grove, Roehm is among a growing number of producers, both conventional and organic, who are realizing the benefits of improving the health and function of their soil through working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“Investing in soil health is fundamental to good organic growing. They are essentially one and the same,” he says. Roehm says he and his wife Amy Benson plan for the long-term, and he thinks healthy soil is the best way to maximize their returns over time.

Farmers like Roehm realize that healthy soil is a complex ecosystem teeming with life. The healthy soil nourishes and supports the plants that grow from it. In fact, plants and soil feed and protect each other.

According to Roehm, “By investing in the soil…you see payoffs in lower weed pressure, better fertility, less pest pressure and healthier plants that are able to deal with disease pressure and insect pressure that less healthy plants are not able to deal with.”

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The non-organic planters have many advantages over the organic farmers. They can feed their plants directly with the conventional fertilizers, which are not only harmful to soil, but also affect water quality.

Whereas, organic farmers don’t have the option of chemical fertilizers, they can only rely on natural options. That is why Roehm mimics nature by integrating grazing into his practice.

“One of the components of our soil health management plan that we are happiest with is the integration of growing forage crops for grazing animals with our annual vegetable production,” he says.

Roehm fertilizes his ground in natural and sustainable way through alternating between grazing and growing. It not only improves the health of soil, but it also helps in maintaining the health of Livestock. The outcome is encouraging.

Roehm told that after the first year, things turn out to be magical like there were very few weeds, which is really awesome.

While you are thinking about growing your plants, make sure that you are making a long-term plan like Roehm and other organic planters. Try to learn the secrets of the soil. According to Roehm, if you want to grow organic greens for a long term, your path to success is to maintain the health of your soil.

“Our consumers have noticed that we are growing lot more than before, it is just because we provided soil with enough resource to give us a better return.”

Read original article here: http://blogs.usda.gov/2016/01/08/oregon-organic-farmer-unlocks-soil-health-secrets-and-boosts-production/

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