On April 15th in Brazil is commemorate the National Soil Conservation Day, this day proposes a reflection on soil conservation and the need for the proper use of this natural resource. Soil must be understood as a finite resource that if not preserved can be lost. By losing the soil, we lose the capacity to produce food, fiber and energy. Soil degradation is caused by various natural or human factors, causing processes such as erosion, compaction and desertification. The way to combat these processes and conserve the soil and its fertility is through good agricultural practices.
Fertile soil is that capable of providing nutrients and a good physical, chemical and biological environment for plant development. Among the main agricultural practices for soil conservation are crop rotation, maintenance, cultivation and good management of cover crops. These practices, in addition to being good for the soil, are also good for the agricultural business, as they generate greater productivity and profitability. What is the use of investing in the best seeds, with greater productive potential, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, if our soil is not capable of providing the conditions that the crop needs to express its full potential?
The no-tillage system, combined with good crop rotation and the cultivation of cover crops, is important because it promotes the formation of straw that protects the soil surface against erosion agents, cushions the impact of the weight of equipment and animals against surface soil compaction, and serves as a thermal insulator, protecting soil decomposing micro-organisms against excessive heat and solar radiation, reducing soil moisture evaporation. Different plant species, in addition to promoting soil exploration with different root systems and depths, bringing nutrients from deep layers to the soil surface, promote soil structuring and porosity, which prevents subsurface compaction and allows infiltration and circulation of water and nutrients.
INDUTAR advocates the cultivation of cover crops such as forage turnip, with its pivoting root that attacks soil compaction, grasses such as oats and millet with a voluminous and deep root system, along with legumes such as vetch and clover capable of fixing biological nitrogen. These plants must be cultivated and then rolled by the action of the KATRINA roller-crimper (knife-roller), creating a voluminous protective layer on the soil surface. The roller-crimper proves to be the best equipment for handling green coverage. Its action crushes the stalks, interrupts the flow of sap and cuts the plants into pieces larger than 30 cm, causing the straw to decompose slowly, which is important in high temperature regions for better nutrient cycling. After this process, crops of greater economic importance such as soybeans and corn can be sown in this protected, clean, fertile and structured soil. The corn crop produces a voluminous and fibrous straw, difficult to manage, but with ideal characteristics for soil protection and direct planting. This straw must be managed during harvest in order to be well distributed over the soil surface. With this concept, INDUTAR developed the MAGNA Corn Head, which has the ability to remove the cobs, make a cut close to the ground and a good shredding of the straw, making the ideal finishing of this dry covering. After this harvest, the crop residues can be rolled again and prepared to receive cover crops or winter crops again.