When talking about the fertility of the orchard, we immediately think of its fertilization, but if we want to do organic farming, we must add a key concept: it is not enough to fertilize it, only to provide specific nutrients. necessary for plant growth, it is necessary take care of the ground . The aim is to preserve the soil and all the micro-organisms present, responsible for its fertility.
The natural fertility of the soil depends on a combination of factors, starting with the presence of organic matter and the life of countless useful microorganisms which inhabit the subsoil: fungi, moulds, algae, bacteria, mycorrhiza,… It is important that the action of the winegrower does not destroy this balance.
Tillage is an operation that can unbalance the soil a lot, obviously also has many positive effects, making it release and drain as well as unlike weeds, but remember that there are also negative aspects that do not always make tillage a positive technique.
What The Plow Involves
Rotate the clods, reaching 30/50 cm deep depending on the machine used, this is not a painless operation. Aerobic microorganisms live in the upper layer of the soil, that is, they need oxygen to live, while at the bottom are anaerobic bacteria and fungi, which are afraid of contact with air. Plow pack of cards the papers of the pills and damages the living microflora.
microorganisms present in the soil are very important for the garden: they play a crucial role in all the chemical transformations that occur under the surface of the soil and allow plants to feed themselves. The correct presence of bacteria allows residual organic matter to break down properly in the old fertile soil and form a harmful rot. This is why it is necessary to take care of this balance and to upset it by plowing is not always a good idea. Obviously also pay attention to the blades : if you chop by turning the clod the effect will be similar to that of the plow, normally it is much better to use a fork to chop by breaking the clods without lifting them.
when to plow
move the ground remains a very important agricultural exploitation : it is useful above all to make it draining, avoiding water stagnation, and loose, and therefore easily penetrated by the roots of our plants. However, this must be done wisely, to avoid upsetting the natural balance of bacteria and other beneficial microorganisms.
The advice is only plow on land that has never been cultivated : when they are grassy and have a layer of roots that is too difficult to work otherwise or if they have been compacted by the passage of vehicles and people.
After the first plowing the soil can be kept loose by hoeing the surface organic matter (mature manure or compost) and moving it at least three times a year with a spade fork.
Cultivate without plowing
Cultivating without a plow is possible : This is what many modern organic farming techniques do, in addition of course to permaculture, natural farming and synergistic gardening, where in general one tries to avoid tilling the soil.
“Conventional” agriculture has accustomed us to plowing, it’s a duty, it’s not true. This is proven by the many schools of thought (from Native Americans to Masanobu Fukuoka) that have successfully practiced no-till agriculture, you can read more about this in Giorgio Avanzo’s lovely article on no-till.
Less invasive agricultural machinery can also be used to better respect microorganisms: the subsoiler instead of the plow, the shovel instead of the cane . Investment in the natural fertility of the soil and the effectiveness of the microbial life it contains can also be facilitated by the use of mycorrhizae and effective microorganisms (EM) which improve the relationship between the root system and the soil. floor.