“Constant soil cover represents a secure, effective, simple, and rapid system that ensures the conversion of the conventional predatory agricultural model towards organic farming and rational grazing for peaceful coexistence with nature.
When a term becomes ingrained in customs, distorting it becomes a herculean task. Nothing is more conservative than a speaker with their learned words. This is the case with what agribusiness began calling ‘weeds’ to justify the lucrative business of pesticides, herbicides, and other synthetic inputs. We have insisted on calling these ‘good plants,’ in line with the vision of organic agriculture that we promote. For a demonstration, here are the main benefits of rational grazing in soils protected with mixed pastures containing ‘good plants.’
- Retain soil moisture and reduce evaporation.
- Mitigate temperature fluctuations between day and night (thermal delta).
- Prevent direct impact of water on the soil, from both rain and irrigation, regulating gradual absorption by both organic matter and the green cover itself.
- Prevent soil disintegration, avoiding the formation of impermeable surface crusts, and continually initiating the development of an excellent biophysical soil structure.
- Shield soils from dehydration or dryness caused by the sun and wind, especially in clay-expansive soils. In the Brazilian Northeast, one hectare can lose more than a thousand millimeters of water in a year due to the influence of wind and solar exposure.
- Provide a constant source of food for microbiology, especially for dung beetles and earthworms, and a continuous supply of processed organic matter for soils, eventually leading to humification.
- Reduce the speed of surface water runoff; over 75% of the total volume of rainfall can be retained immediately.
- Improve soil infiltration and drainage rates, mainly vertically, facilitating constant mineral renewal in the formation of “new or future” layers (enrichment or renewal of surface horizons).
- Favor soil biostructure, clump formation, and stability.
- Increase the soil’s cation exchange capacity (CEC).
- Enhance soil malleability, permeability, aeration, porosity, depth, and horizontal root interweaving.
- Fix atmospheric nitrogen and promote its contribution to both soil and other plants and microbiology.
- Improve soil capillarity.
- Act as a biological subsoiler, along with earthworms and dung beetles, capable of penetrating both vertical and horizontal compacted layers.
- Extract water and solubilize minerals from the subsoil, increasing their availability in the upper layers for forage.
- Produce organic substances or phytostimulant acids, hormones, and other allelopathic bio compounds.
- Assist in the formation of organic acids, essential for the mineral solubilization process (biochemical reactions and metabolites).
- Can be used for both animal and human consumption.
- Serve as an alternative energy source (firewood, charcoal, forage, among others) in agro-silvopastoral system management.
- Are excellent economic sources of petroleum energy, minimizing the dependence on soluble fertilizers as a source of crop fertilization.
- Promote soil colonization by macro and micro life, both in the superficial horizontal layers and the deeper vertical layers.
- Serve as a constant, dynamic source of organic matter production and seed production (perennial and annual), often increasing income for producers through harvesting and marketing.
- Promote biodiversity of fauna and flora, contributing to natural environmental stability (birds, insects, and small rodents).
- Act as a source of soil nutritional enrichment and mineral compound recycling, unlocking many locked nutrients.
- Help to solubilize nutrients not available to animals and crops.
- Maintain constant activity in the nutritional cycles in the soil/macro and micro life/plant and livestock relationship.
- Reduce leaching and nutrient loss in the deeper soil layers.
- Gradually favor the formation of workable soil due to the constant weathering or gradual weathering of the parent rock, mainly by roots, organic matter, macro, and microbiology.
- Serve as a constant, heterogeneous, and dynamic source of organic matter production, directly or indirectly influencing the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soil: color, structure, plasticity, moisture retention, and the availability of macro and micronutrients.
- Provide the soil with a constant and high rate of permanent microbiological humus formation.
- Allow farmers greater economic options with their cultivation (seeds, flowers, honey, firewood, fertilizer, food, etc.).
- Their rotation, association, and management as bio-refuges favor the control and natural biodiversity of insects.
- Serve as a constant source of diverse and dynamic genetic renewal, through their flowers and seeds.
- Help naturally control nematodes, with the self-regulation of their populations, mainly between the roots, through regenerating microbiological diversity.
- Combat desertification when controlling erosion-causing factors (greater resilience capacity).
- Contribute to safer, more abundant, and efficient harvests, mainly of water, soil, shade, meat, milk, and forage biomass.
- Serve for the control of many insect species through the ‘symbiotic trap effect,’ while attracting beneficial species, mainly pollinators like bees, bumblebees, and wasps, among others.
- Many plants in soil cover and forage improve livestock health due to containing active ingredients with parasiticidal effects.
- A balanced mixture of ‘good plants’ in pastures helps balance and improve protein content for animal nutrition.
The management of pasture, combined with ‘good plants,’ cannot be considered an ecosystem that we can define and limit to a space where a defined or precise set of physical, chemical, and biological relationships or simple relationships between plants occur. The microbiology of diversified pasture is neither casual nor causal, nor can it be described or narrated step by step, including activities and interactions between living organisms in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.
In a laboratory, the presence of a certain population of microorganisms and some functional groups can be quantified for an instant and in a very limited way, but it is difficult to reach a definitive conclusion about all the aspects involving qualitative relationships that vary at each moment between the environment and the presence of micro life in a changing soil, managed and subject to the laws of thermodynamics and constant grazing, in which, generally, only liters of milk and kilograms of meat are measured and considered.”
“Until a cattle learned to relate to pasture, microorganisms from the depths of the soil made it possible for rumination to occur in its stomach, approximately 55 million years ago.”
Jairo Restrepo Rivera /04/2023. Pachita, Cali-Colombia.