Spudman February 2023 - 20

Preparing for extreme
water events by
feeding soil microbes
Using microbes to improve water holding capacity
can give farms an edge on Mother Nature
By Cassidy Million
DIRECTOR OF AG SCIENCE,
HELIAE AGRICULTURE
W
hile all things agriculture
are only possible with water,
there are few farmers who
have never cursed water at its extremes.
Potato growers manage widespread
drought conditions year after year. On
the other hand, too much precipitation
can disrupt planting or harvest date,
as well as cause a number of other
problems. In both scenarios, the worst
thing a grower can do is be unprepared.
Soil health (the biological integrity
of your soil) and soil quality (how well
soil does its job) both play a part in
water holding capacity. Growers should
support the physical, biological and
chemical properties of soil to improve
irrigation water productivity, water
storage and crop productivity. U.S.
potato growers who adopted soil health
20
Spudman * February 2023
management practices realized yield
increased an average of 49 CWT/acre,
with an average ROI of 15:1.
Whether your potato farm is prone
to flooding or droughts, growers can
activate soil microbes to improve water
holding capacity and reduce extreme
weather damage and abiotic stressors.
FORMULATING THE IDEAL
SOIL FOR WATER HOLDING
CAPACITY
The healthier your soil, the more
water it can retain in drought - and
the more water it can move down
through the soil profile in flooding
events. Here are some things to
consider when determining the health
and quality of your soil.
Texture: Depending on the type
of potatoes you grow, and the
environmental impacts, the texture of
your soil is a composition of sand, silt
and clay. The texture plays a role in the
ability to retain water, provide a stable
structure and have proper aeration.
Structure: Healthy soils have
soil particles arranged into larger
aggregates, which are essential for water
and nutrient movement, penetration
and retention.
Drainage and aeration: These both
are essential to avoid nutrient loss
and solubility. Poor drainage or soil
lacking aeration can be at greater risk to
flood damage.
Moisture: Essential for any potato
crop, moisture promotes nutrient
uptake, root growth and overall plant
development well-being.
pH: Important to know and
understand, as pH can change nutrient
forms and affect nutrient availability.
Temperature: Soil temperature can
affect a potato's crop ability to grow and
nutrient uptake.
Soil microbes: These microorganisms
promote healthy soil texture, structure,

Spudman February 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Spudman February 2023

Spudman February 2023 - 1
Spudman February 2023 - 2
Spudman February 2023 - 3
Spudman February 2023 - 4
Spudman February 2023 - 5
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