Retooling for Soil Health and Regenerative Agriculture

posted in: Regenerative Ag, Resources | 0

A no-till drill is used to seed a cover crop into crop residue. Photo by I.Jenniches CC BY 2.0

Regenerative agriculture is not merely a buzzword; it’s a transformative approach to farming that holds the key to a bright future for New Mexico and the world. This holistic farming philosophy centers on restoring and improving soil health to foster resilient, thriving ecosystems. In our arid and diverse state, the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices is crucial for the health of our land and water, the well-being of farming communities, and our contribution to global sustainability efforts.

The Equipment Challenge

One significant obstacle that farmers, particularly beginning farmers, face when adopting regenerative agriculture is access to the necessary equipment. The high cost of purchasing new and specialized machinery can be prohibitive, especially for those just starting their farming journey. Additionally, knowing where to find the equipment and how to use it effectively can be a daunting task for beginners.

To address this problem, the New Mexico Healthy Soil Tool & Equipment Directory connects farmers with the tools they need. This online database provides information on equipment available for rent or to borrow from various organizations across the state, including contact details, rental costs, and program restrictions.

We encourage farmers, both new and experienced, to take advantage of these sharing programs to support soil health. Whether you’re a seasoned farmer looking to expand your production methods or a novice eager to embark on this journey, the New Mexico Healthy Soil Tool & Equipment Directory is a valuable resource to support your goals.

Explore the tools, knowledge, and community support available to you and join us in cultivating the healthiest soil possible to reap the benefits of regenerative agriculture!

Why Regenerative Agriculture Matters

1. Soil Health:  Regenerative practices rejuvenate soil health, enhancing fertility and resilience. Healthy soil leads to better crop yields and more nutritional food, to name just a few of many soil health benefits.

2. Water Conservation:  In a state where water is a precious and scarce resource, improved water retention in the soil and reduced runoff is invaluable to protect our watersheds. Regenerative agriculture helps safeguard our water supplies and contributes to better drinking water quality.

3. Climate Change Mitigation:  By sequestering carbon in the soil, regenerative agriculture aids in mitigating the greenhouse effect. It’s a critical part of the solution in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

4. Sustainable Farming Communities: Regenerative agriculture promotes self-sufficiency and resilience in farming communities. Reducing the need for costly chemicals fosters economic sustainability for farmers while improving public health.

This compost spreader is available for rent from the East Rio Arriba Soil & Water Conservation District. More information in the NM Healthy Soil Tool & Equipment Directory. Photo by I.Jenniches CC BY 2.0

The Vital Role of Farming Equipment

Below are some examples of farming equipment, each serving a unique purpose in nurturing soil health. While some implements are specific to a regenerative agriculture approach, others are also used in conventional production systems. All of these tools can be found in the New Mexico Healthy Soil Tool & Equipment Directory.

No-Till Drills importantly enable farmers to plant seeds without disturbing the soil through plowing. This practice preserves soil structure, reduces erosion, and enhances moisture retention—critical factors in water-scarce regions like New Mexico.

Roller Crimpers are ingenious tractor implements used specifically to terminate cover crops in a no-till system. Plant stems are knocked down and form a weed-suppressing mat that the next crop can be planted into.

Cultivators play a vital role in weed management and soil aeration while minimally disturbing the soil. In this way, cultivators foster healthier soil and can replace harmful chemical interventions.

Aerators can help address compaction in soils, allowing air, water, and nutrients to reach plant roots more effectively. Soil aeration is essential for root health, nutrient absorption, and improved water infiltration.

Augers are used for soil sampling and drilling holes for planting trees or fence posts. They help ensure precise placement of plants and structures without excessive soil disturbance, promoting soil stability and root health.

Brush Hogs, or rotary cutters, are excellent for clearing dense vegetation. These implements can be used in place of a flail mower to mow residues and leave biomass as mulch on the soil surface.

Harrows are used for managing field residues, leveling the surface, and gently incorporating organic matter into the soil. When run behind a seeder, harrowing promotes better seed-to-soil contact.

Rock Rakes remove rocks and debris from the soil surface, preventing damage to farming equipment and reducing interference with crop growth.

Manure Spreaders evenly and quickly distribute compost across fields, improving soil fertility by adding organic matter and encouraging microbial activity in the soil.

Border Discs: Border discs are used for precision ground preparation. They enable farmers to create consistent borders and drainage paths in fields, improving irrigation efficiency.

Jang Rollers are hand-push seeders used on small-scale farms or market gardens for planting, ensuring precise seed placement and depth. Able to handle a less than perfect seedbed, these tools aid in reducing the need for tillage and soil disturbance.

A Jang Seeder is available through the Northern New Mexico Young Farmers Alliance. More information in the NM Healthy Soil Tool & Equipment Directory. Photo by I.Jenniches CC BY 2.0

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