“N” IS FOR NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT
Sustainable and environmentally friendly, nutrient management is the practice of using and adding soil nutrients as efficiently as possible to increase productivity of crop yields.
Why is it used?
One of the most prevalent indicators of a lack of nutrient management is soil erosion. “Although [erosion] occurs naturally, industrial farming practices have dramatically increased the speed at which agricultural soil is eroded.” (Sustainable Table) The rate of erosion peaks when soil is not covered by plant matter. By keeping soils nutrient rich, plants will thrive and protect our earth from eroding away.
Nutrient management also bolsters crop growth. Twenty different nutrients have been recognized as necessary for good crop growth, all at varying amounts. These nutrients are not always found in nature at the rate and volume a farm needs, so nutrient management monitors, controls, and provides these necessary nutrients. (Univ. of Georgia College of Agriculture)
According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, healthy soil with growing crops and those crops’ root systems also “improves soils so that they become more porous and [have] a well-structured underground.” This quality helps in storing water in the soil.
Why does it work?
Nutrient management’s success is in solving problems before problems ever appear. Modern farming practices can be viewed as “bandaid” solutions; if a soil is nutrient deficient, give it fertilizer; if it doesn’t store enough water, set up irrigation. The solution is external and therefore won’t fix the problem in the future.
“In this way [through nutrient management], we can prevent the many symptoms of unhealthy soils from developing instead of reacting after they develop.” (Sustainable Agriculture)