Crop Rotation & Soil Protection
This is one of the most important things a grower can do! The soil requires a balance of nutrients so crops can grow well. Growing the same repetitively in the same place (monocropping) depletes the soil of certain nutrients. By rotating the types of crops we grow in our paddocks, crops which deplete one type of nutrient in the soil are followed in the next growing season by a different crop. This returns that nutrient to the soil or draws a different ratio of nutrients.
Crop rotation mitigates the buildup of pathogens and pests that occur. It improves soil structure and fertility by increasing the biomass from varied root structures. As a bonus, this means we can increase our crop yield so there are more tasty veggies for customers! Agronomists call the benefits associated with crop rotation as “The Rotation Effect.”
We are proactive about leach minimisation and being allies of the environment. Scientists communicate the best practices to avoid leaching of nitrogen into the groundwater and Oakley’s rigorously implement strategies to have a low environmental impact. We test the Nitrogen (NO3-) levels in our soil before planting and only add the exact amount required for our crops. Think of it as prescription fertiliser!
Oakley’s are doing split applications of fertiliser – applying some of the fertiliser early on in the plant’s life cycle and the remainder later on. This mitigates the risk of all NO3- being leached at once and also increases yield. This is how we maintain the quality of our groundwater and protect our aquatic ecosystems. Now that’s smart!
Information and research mentioned comes from the following sources:
National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research. Drought in a Changing Climate. Retrieved from https://www.niwa.co.nz/sites/niwa.co.nz/files/drought_in_a_changing_climate.pdf
Yara North America. (2018, 2018-05-17). Role of Nitrogen in Potato Production. Retrieved from https://www.yara.us/crop-nutrition/potato/role-of-nitrogen/
Yefang Jiang, Bernie J. Zebarth, George H. Somers, John A. MacLeod, & Martine M. Savard. (2012). Nitrate Leaching from Potato Production in Eastern Canada. In He Z., Larkin R., & Honeycutt W. (Eds.), Sustainable Potato Production: Global Case Studies.: Springer, Dordrecht.
Francis, C. A., & Clegg, M. D. (1990). Crop rotations in sustainable production systems. Sustainable agricultural systems, 107-122.