Want Better Crops? Start with Better Soil Structure. Sponsored by Heliae® Agriculture Sponsored Experienced growers know how important the condition of their soil is. Good soil health and quality translates directly into good plant health. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s more to good soil than just the presence of ample nutrients. In order for crops to reach their full yield potential, the soil they’re in must contain adequate moisture, particularly at depth. Fields in which precipitation or irrigation water runs off or pools and then evaporates typically don’t maintain an optimal plant available moisture content throughout the growing season. High-performance soils, on the other hand, are good at receiving and storing water. What’s the key to this attribute? Good soil structure. Fertile acreage is characterized by the presence of soil formations called aggregates. The spaces between these tiny structures not only accept and hold water, they transmit it deeper into the soil, pulling thirsty roots down with them. Poor soil structure is common. It can occur as a result of tillage, compaction, or surface crusting, and is easy to overlook with all the other challenges that have to be addressed in running an agricultural operation. Unfortunately for growers, failing to take steps to address deficient soil structure results in smaller harvests of crops and greater susceptibility to stressors. However, on the bright side, soil structure can be improved, even in the most neglected of fields, and doing so doesn’t require a great deal of labor to achieve significant gains. Healthy structure is the result of natural activity by bacteria, fungi, microalgae, and other organisms. They create sticky “glues,” net-like extensions, and other byproducts as they work to decompose plant and animal residues. These byproducts cause soil particles to clump together as aggregates, which helps form a better framework for water retention and moisture movement. Soil Amendments That Improve Fields in Multiple Ways The microbiome in fields can be improved by the introduction of a soil amendment containing a high-quality food source. Microalgae can be particularly beneficial. As soon as they are applied, microalgae help to create more and larger aggregates. Not only does their activity have a positive impact on the soil’s moisture content, it also creates a more hospitable environment for other types of microbes. These dual improvements—better structure and an improved microbiome—allow for more growers to help realize their yield goals. Microalgae-based soil amendment can also [A1] [A2] be useful for extending the viability for older fields. Focusing on Regenerative Agriculture Restoring the health of soil is one of the key elements of what’s called regenerative agriculture. This approach to farming recognizes that there is only so much land that can be cultivated and that restoring the soil is critical not only to growing operations but to the planet as a whole. As a result, adopting regenerative agriculture practices like the use of microalgae soil amendments benefits businesses in a few ways. First, it allows them to deliver greater quantities of crops to the wholesalers and retailers who rely on them. Second, it demonstrates to partners and consumers that the grower is more than just a crop supplier, and is, in fact, an environmental steward focused on leaving the environment in better shape than they found it. And that, of course, is definitely good for business. Sponsor Message The scientists and farming experts at Heliae® Agriculture are leading the way in the use of sustainable microalgae products to revive, enrich, and maintain healthy soil for growers. Its portfolio of 140 issued and pending patents is just one indication of Heliae’s commitment to advancing agriculture. PhycoTerra® microalgae-based soil amendment is one such agricultural improvement the company has developed. To learn more about Heliae® Agriculture and PhycoTerra®, please visit phycoterra.com or call (800) 998-6536. To learn more about soil structure, please visit our blog.