One of the main goals of conservation farming is to improve soil health.

Fields are replanted according to a structured replant programme. As each field is prepared for planting, drainage is improved and water carrying structures are incorporated to reduce water logging and soil erosion by controlling water flow.

Moisture probes are used to monitor the moisture balance and irrigation is regulated accordingly. Farm roads are positioned with due consideration being given to optimal drainage. Soil sampling is carried out and corrective measures taken where required.

Fallow fields are planted with green manure crops which improve the soil health through breaking the monoculture along with the pest and disease cycles. In addition, green manuring helps to controls weeds and nematodes, adds nitrogen and increases the microbial populations and organic matter levels.

Fallow field planted with sun hemp

When harvesting grains the crop stubble and residual chaff is left infield to assist with retaining moisture, increasing organic material and soil stability, and reducing the impacts of soil erosion by wind and water. Minimum till planting has been introduced to minimise soil disturbance during the planting process.

During cane harvest cane tops are retained infield. This practice also assists with weed reduction, retaining moisture, increasing organic material and reducing the impacts of soil erosion by wind and water.

To reduce soil compaction, the extraction of cane from the fields is limited to specific rows and not carried out when the fields are saturated. The rows where controlled traffic access does take place are ripped with a tined implement to reverse the effects of compaction.

Fruit estates apply mulch to increase the organic content of the soil, reduce moisture content fluctuations and maintain constant soil temperatures, resulting in better crop health, growth and quality. Wood chips from grubbed orchards are used as mulch thereby reducing air pollution by not burning old trees.

Organic matter retained in the fields after harvest