Plants - Cover Crops
Gabe Brown of Brown's Ranch in North Dakota works with nature and learns from nature. On the Brown Ranch, they accelerate soil formation by using principles of nature.
Cover crops are a diverse mix of plants that enhance the life and function of the soil. With increasing plant diversity, the objective is to feed soil biology and build biomass. Cover crops are incorporated before the cash crop, along with the cash crop, or after the crop. There should never be bare soil. Cover crops are used to design for what you don't have in the field. The cover crop mix may vary from field to field. Cover crops can be used anywhere in the world to produce a healthy ecosystem.
Soils need to be covered at all times with living plant cover as much as possible. Multiple leaf sizes and shapes are considered. Plants are selected for their temperature range. This protects the soil and makes it more resilient against temperature changes. Healthier soils keep soil temperatures warmer with cooler seasonal changes for extended growing seasons and soils are kept cooler with cover in warmer seasons to protect them from the sun.
On the Brown Ranch, they use no inputs such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Nutrients are shown to be sufficient in soil through testing.
And with healthy soils, water more easily infiltrates the soil improving water infiltration and water-holding capacity. Water infiltration testing of the soil has shown an improvement of rain absorption from 1/2 inch per hour to 15 inches per hour. Improved water holding capacity eliminates the need for irrigation.
Gabe Brown: Regeneration of Our Lands: A Producer’s Perspective | TEDxGrandForks (16 min)
Gabe Brown: Keys To Building a Healthy Soil (59 min)