WATER

Water is indispensable in agriculture, benefiting plants, microbiology, and the broader soil ecosystem. 

It plays a crucial role for plants, acting as a carrier for nutrients, influencing photosynthesis, and averting water stress. Furthermore, water triggers seed germination, and serves as a natural coolant, regulating plant temperature in extreme weather conditions.
In terms of microbiology, sufficient soil moisture fosters beneficial microbial interactions, facilitating soil particle aggregation and their participation of the cycling of nutrients. 
For the soil, water is essential in preserving soil structure, preventing compaction, and enhancing nutrient availability, contributing to overall functioning. 

Navigating the supply of adequate water to crops presents several major challenges, particularly in the face of changing weather patterns marked by more intense and less predictable rainfall. These difficulties encompass coping with water scarcity due to prolonged droughts and depleted groundwater levels, and often include the financial impact of addressing the need for improved irrigation infrastructure or sustaining the ongoing maintenance of irrigation infrastructure, managing high energy costs linked to water pumping, as well as contending with variable water quality, and/or complying with intricate regulatory requirements.

To overcome these challenges, embracing sustainable water management practices, and making use of the water your fields by default already have access to, is probably the most common-sense and cost-effective approach.

Practices that enhance soil structure offer numerous benefits. They create ideal conditions for plant growth by maintaining stable moisture and temperature levels, resulting in higher productivity. Improved water retention means less reliance on irrigation, saving water resources, and cutting costs, especially in water-scarce regions. Embracing certain techniques and avoiding others, and increasing organic matter levels reduces the need for irrigation, aligning with sustainable water management and environmental preservation. These practices enhance soil structure, crucial for water retention and crop health, and boost resilience to extreme weather, securing a stable farming future. Additionally, healthy soil structure conserves water, enhances infiltration, reduces evaporation, encourages robust root growth, prevents compaction, and safeguards soil integrity, all contributing to sustainable water management.

“To ensure an adequate water supply for our crops, the critical factor isn’t the quantity of rainfall or irrigation, but rather the soil’s ability to absorb and retain that water effectively.”

When water reaches the soil it should do two things: 

(A) It should efficiently enter the soil, be retained until saturation, and the excess released into subterranean aquifers. 

(B) Return to the air through plant transpiration, rather than evaporating from the soil surface. [1]

 

In agriculture, the goal is efficient soil management to make the most of available moisture. This involves ensuring that soil is porous enough for water to enter, promoting soil particle aggregation and increasing organic matter content to act like sponges for moisture retention. It’s also essential to avoid compaction zones that hinder water flow and use soil cover like mulch or vegetation to reduce temperature fluctuations and prevent excessive evaporation. This efficient soil management is crucial for optimizing the soil’s role in the hydrological cycle.

[1} Savory, A., [https://www.youtube.com/redirect?event=video_description&redir_token=QUFFLUhqbDFnczNnNjEtVllBX3ZmaFFPM1FNcGtlc040UXxBQ3Jtc0ttRnJ2WkRRYWxURmlhRlN0VS1mTzFscDFXcElocnVOUl9vNmlkcWZRcENSMlc2b3hOZzIwX1dGdmM1N1pXZHp4RVhubi1jRTQwS1NpbHpoc01CbDR6Zm9YS252STUyWFNYWjVlbW5Od2VvWV9YSl9VNA&q=https%3A%2F%2Fblog.ted.com%2Fallan-savorys-how-to-fight-desertification-and-reverse-climate-change-criticisms-updates%2F&v=vpTHi7O66pI] & https://blog.ted.com/. (2013, March 4). How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change | Allan Savory [Video]. https://blog.ted.com/. Retrieved October 4, 2023, from 

 

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