25 Sep Organic Methods to Managing Drought
Aside from irrigation, there is no sure way to avoid the impact of drought on crops. Irrigation is not always possible, however, so other management strategies must be used to try and reduce the effects. Minnesota Farm Guide recently interviewed Joe Pedretti of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), who offered several practices used by organic farmers that are designed to help maintain soil moisture during dry seasons.
- Cover crops: They increase soil organic matter while protecting the soil surface. Cover crops hold the soil surface together, which reduces evaporation, and the organic matter helps to preserve soil moisture.
- Modified crop rotations: Done to improve soil moisture retention while reducing soil compaction and pest pressure. Rotations as long as five years are often used. A rotation may include corn, soybeans, alfalfa and small grains.
- Short-season crops: Planting early-maturing corn makes it possible to till any weeds that emerge before the corn does. These varieties also pollinate at different times than other corn hybrids, reducing the risk of cross-pollination. Planting small grains early in the season can enable them to mature before the summer heat arrives.
- Rotary hoe: Moderate use of the rotary hoe breaks up hard soil and allows moisture to soak in. It can also potentially promote subsoil moisture to seep up to plant roots.