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Diverse cover cropping is one of conservation agriculture techniques.

Regenerative Practices: Conservation Agriculture

Keeping the soil covered with organic materials and disturb it as little as possible are two of the main principles for soil health [1]. They help prevent erosion that sweeps away our topsoil, keep the soil temperature nice and cozy for plants and microbes, retain moisture, build soil organic matter by feeding the microbes, preserve soil structure, and keep those pesky weeds away. Phew, that is a long list of benefits. Let's see what those practices are.

Multi-species cover cropping for building biodiversity above and below ground the key principle of regenerative agriculture

Multi-Species Cover Cropping

There are many crops, e.g., rye, clover, sunhemp, native grasses, gotu kola, that can be grown as cover crops, either as part of crop rotations or ground cover in perennials and agroforestry systems. In addition to all the benefits above, their roots help aerate the soil, allowing water and oxygen to flow into the soil and preventing runoff pollution by moping up excess nutrients [2].

Rice straws used as mulches to protect soil

Mulching

Another way to keep the soil covered. Farmers and gardeners use various materials, such as crop residues, straws, and woodchips, to protect their soil from external elements and keep soil moisture from evaporating.

stubs of rice once grown together with sesame to deter pests will be lightly folded back into the soil too add nutrients and organic matter

Minimum Tillage

Tilling is kinda like bulldozing into microbes' houses (aka soil). It breaks up soil structure, destroys fungal networks, and releases stored carbon [3]. Therefore, keeping it to the minimum will help preserve the healthy soil that we have built.

1. USDA NRCS. "Soil Health." Soil Health | NRCS North Dakota, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/nd/soils/health/. 2. Clark, Andy. "10 Ways Cover Crops Enhance Soil Health." SARE, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, 4 Aug. 2020, www.sare.org/publications/cover-crops/ecosystem-services/10-ways-cover-crops-enhance-soil-health/. 3. Fuhrer, Jay. "Minimizing Soil Disturbance." Soil Health: Principle 2 of 5 – Minimizing Soil Disturbance | NRCS North Dakota, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/nd/soils/health/?cid=nrcseprd1300910. 4. Soil Association. "Why Are Hedgerows so Important?" Soil Association, Soil Association, www.soilassociation.org/take-action/protect-the-environment/why-are-hedgerows-so-important/#soils.