Surface straw is widely recognised as one of the quickest ways to improve soil structure and fertility. Previous crop residue provides organic matter for the soil’s living ecosystem which breaks it down into nutrients and makes them instantly available to the plants. Without it, the valuable services provided by the soil’s microorganisms would greatly diminish or stop altogether.
Mzuri recommendation: Leave all straw and previous crop residue on the surface.
Leaving straw on the surface is important because it:
- Improves organic matter
- Supports the soil’s biodiverse ecosystem
- Retains moisture
- Stops water and wind erosion
We recommend stubble height of 150 – 250mm to ensure good trash flow through our Pro-Til drill. This optimum stubble height is sufficient to shelter the plants from cold temperatures and wind, whilst being short enough to allow adequate levels of light penetration. An even distribution of chopped straw and chaff is also desirable.
Until experienced with minimum tillage, remove the straw before oil seed rape and second wheat, but replace organic matter within the rotation with compost, farmyard manure or sludge.