One of the most important principles for a good soil fertility is to limit mechanical and chemical disturbances.
Where in nature do we find mechanical tillage? – Nowhere!
Mandkind has been manipulating the soil for thousands of years. Because technology is modernizing, we are able to work the soil faster, harder and deeper, but the damage is greater. Tillage operations are bad for the soil structure and its function. Tillages damage the pores, reduce water storage and accelerate the breakdown of organic matter in the soil.
Tillage operations such as plowing introduce oxygen into the soil, which encourages bad bacteria, which multiply rapidly and consume the soluble carbon-based biotic adhesives. These natural adhesives hold the micro and macro pores together. When this “glue” is gone, the silt and clay particles fill the cavities (soil pores), reducing the porosity. This reduction results in anaerobic conditions in the soil, altering soil biota, which in turn can lead to an increase in pathogens and loss of nitrogen in the system due to an increase in nitrifying bacteria.
When microbes die, they release soluble forms of nitrate nitrogen into the soil, encouraging weed growth.
If we feed a plant with a synthetic fertilizer (N-Fertiliser), that plant becomes “lazy”. A plant releases carbon into the soil to attract soil microorganisms. The use of N fertilizer has the effect of reducing the number of beneficial micro-organisms and fungi in the soil.
The result; a less biodiverse soil life, which reduces soil fertility.
Applying mechanical and chemical tillage has a negative effect on soil fertility.
It is important to realize that nature can handle occasional stress; sometimes it can even have a positive effect. However, nature cannot cope with chronic stress, such as the annual use of mechanical and chemical tillage.