GO Seed is consistently researching new species of turf, forage, and cover crops to promote soil health and to fortify ecosystems within the soil. In the United States, topsoil is eroding at an alarming rate, chemicals and nutrients are leaching into waterways, and natural pollinators are declining in number. But, we can limit damage to our natural resources by using sustainable practices such as planting turf, forage, and cover crops. Click below for more information about how GO Seed uses research and innovation for sustainable practices and products.
Farmers are facing multiple challenges in nutrient management, especially building nitrogen in the soil. The application of nitrogen in the form of fertilizers on the surface of a field can foster leaching into waterways from excess applications or from undesired weather events. Not only does leaching have a negative effect on our environment, it means the applied nitrogen is not available in the soil for crops and microbes to utilize. Nitrogen leaching creates a financial burden for farmers; as input costs continue to increase, farmers need to ensure that inputs are effectively and properly absorbed into the soil.
Our FIXatioN balansa clover creates nitrogen through the use of nodules which form around symbiotic good bacteria, Rhizobiums, throughout the root system. Rhizobiums break down nitrogen naturally to promote water purification in the soil. The nitrogen then stays in the soil once the clover decomposes. FIXatioN balansa clover has been known to fix over 100 units of nitrogen per acre. Overall, cover crops help to promote soil sustainability, fix nitrogen and decrease harmful runoff into oceans, lakes and rivers.
Soil compaction occurs when heavy agriculture equipment rolls over soft soil and decreases pore space. With smaller pores in the soil, water and air cannot penetrate into the ground. However, by using turf, forage or cover crops to break up compaction, an ecosystem with healthy micro-organisms and natural resources can flourish. Grassland Oregon bred the impressive Driller daikon radish to break up compaction in the soil to benefit your crops.
Below the soil there are many micro organisms that can either help or hinder farmers. For example, beneficial nematodes dispose of unwanted insects in the soil, while harmful nematodes burrow into or eat the roots and stems of plants. Our nematode control radishes: Image and Carwoodi can dispose of the unhealthy nematodes in the soil by drawing them into the radish and essentially starving the nematodes.
Farmers face water challenges based on location. If water doesn’t penetrate correctly into the soil, farmers can face flooding or runoff. Turf, forage and cover crops contribute to ground water penetration and purification. Cover crops maintain water in the soil so the ground stays cool and damp and ready for cash crop growth. Runoff hastens erosion and can bring harmful chemicals to natural waterways. Turf helps to purify the soil by filtering out chemicals and pollutants. Forages and cover crops dig deep channels into the soil, thereby returning water to underground aquifers instead of creating runoff to oceans, lakes, and rivers.
It can take over 500 years for the earth to naturally create an inch of topsoil, but in the United States we are losing topsoil 10 times faster than it can be replaced naturally. Each year over 1 billion tons of top soil erosion occurs in America’s heartland, that’s enough to fill the Rose Bowl. Additionally, in the US, over 750 million tons of topsoil are lost from wind erosion each year. Erosion caused by water runoff can be equally as detrimental by transporting chemicals and soil into our waterways. Root growth increases soil stability and soil coverage. Cover crops can protect against erosion by covering the soil with foliage and stabilizing the soil with roots during the counter-cycle or fallow time between cash crop production seasons.