Protecting our Black Gold
Soil fertility and biodiversity are two main ingredients in organic farming-your black gold, so to speak. If you keep it healthy and strong, it will return yields for decades to come. Every year on our farm, we get a similar question or thought regarding how the flood affects our fields. Many people ask if the flood helps to bring in nutrients every year. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Every winter when the Snoqualmie River floods, it leeches out many nutrients and can erode the soil composition. So, for us on our farm, we need to replenish the soil nutrients every spring for the veggies’ growing needs and overall fertility that has been removed from the flooding waters.
We measure for nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, along with monitoring pH levels and microbial abundance in the soil. We do this in the spring when we know the soil is at its most deficient time of the year so that we can optimize for our growing season. Every year, our pH levels are very low (5.3-5.7) due to the many fir trees in our region that contribute to acidic soil composition. Spreading lime on our fields can bring the pH levels up to 6.7, our optimal growing number. At this pH, all other organic supplements and compost put into the ground can now be available to the plants and absorbed efficiently. We generally spread 3 tons per acre.
We also know from countless studies that organic farming verses conventional farming tends to store more carbon in the soil, reduce soil erosion and is overall more energy efficient because it does not rely on synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. When we keep toxic chemicals out of the soil everyone wins. Our food is safer and cleaner, our employees are never exposed to anything harmful, sustainability of pollinators and flora and fauna are much greater, and as climate change continues to heat up our earth, soil science is able to better retain water, a precious commodity in many farming communities.
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