Picture
source: planetnature.com

Soil is a living ecosystem that supports many organisms in a variety of ways (think the soil web). Soil is more than a medium that we grow vegetables in; it is the medium that improves life. When we expose soil to the elements above, we are creating an environment that can be devastating to the micro-ecosystem that we are trying to create below. For these reasons, we must do our best to preserve the soil that lies below our feet.
Picturesource: ars.usda.gov
There are millions of microbes that live in conjunction with our crops and cover crops. In healthy soil we can find up to a million microbes in only one tablespoon. Like humans, microbes need food and a comfortable environment to live. When we expose soil to the elements above, we risk destroying their environment and, in turn, degrading our soil structure. The average raindrop falls at approximately 24 mph. Exposed soil can be rapidly degraded when hit with water at that high a velocity. When that raindrop hits the earth, any exposed soil has the potential to wash away. Exposed soil will have significantly fewer nutrients than that of protected soil. 

When we maintain a healthy cover crop and use cover crops as companion planting, we are ensuring that our garden area will prevent the erosion of organic material. We also know that when planting cover crops, we actually build organic mass, which is valuable for sustaining a healthy ecosystem.  Cover crops also add organic mass underground with their root mass. That root mass helps build the organic layer, allowing for your soil to hold moisture. When done correctly, increased organic mass and will maximize crop yields.


Picturesource: thebluegrassspecial.com
It is sited on NRCS-USDA’s website that by providing a good habitat for these organisms, we can increase residue decomposition and improve nutrient cycling by up to 25 percent. 

Picture
source: ars.usda.gov
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How do you calculate the amount of water to cover a crops?

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