|Prosopis velutina - a mesquite from Sonoran Arizona|
probably is one of the plants of our future
- Conservation tillage – minimize or eliminate manipulation of the soil for food production. Including leaving crop residues on the soil surface. Reduces soil erosion and improves water use efficiency and increases carbon concentrations in the top soil. Avoids disruption to the mycorrhiza in the soil and provides channels for water to penetrate more deeply in the soils.
- Cover cropping – use of crops such as clover, alfalfa and small grains for soil protection and improvement between seasons of growing food. Cover crops enhance the soil structure and add organic matter to the soil making it better for carbon sequestration.
- Crop rotation – by rotating crops in succession in the same area, we mimic the diversity of natural ecosystems more closely. How effective this is, however is related to the crops involved and the amount of time devoted to each one. (Millet is shallow rooted and is less efficacious than the same amount of time devoted to alfalfa which has a massive root structure.)
- Zero use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides – already noted as detrimental to mycorrhiza/soil relationships – all of these are petroleum products that kill off the mycorrhiza in the soil and ruin exactly what you are trying to build. Besides, we will need to wean ourselves off petroleum anyway, might as well start now learning how to do without the stuff. Once you accept NOT using these items, it doesn't take long for one to learn how to live without them and soon you see how superfluous they were all along.
- Mulching – placing organic matter over the soil and allowing it to breakdown without disturbing the process sequesters carbon. This is what creates the bases of all you want to achieve. Don't scrimp.
- Growing perennial crops – often with interspersed annual crops where practical, leaving the detritus on the soil between growing seasons. Perennial crops lend themselves to soil sequestration better than annual crops and survive untoward weather fluctuations on a seasonal basis without dying. Their mere presence makes cultivation more difficult and ensures a limited disturbance of the soil.