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What does it mean when Cedar Meadow Farm’s Steve Groff says “better oil from better soil?”
Soil health (also called soil quality), is defined as the soil’s ability to sustain life and is key in the success of all agriculture; including hemp farming for the CBD industry.
The quality of soil is so important to the history of agriculture that there are records from every ancient civilization classifying different soil types based on its fertility.1
Soil quality is largely affected by several key factors, like the soil biology, the nutrients in the soil, and whether or not the soil has high concentrations of contaminants.2
It is imperative that farmers take part in good soil management practices: good, healthy soil will produce better quality crops with higher yield, including hemp crops.
Healthy soil has a living ecosystem full of bacteria, fungi and invertebrates.3 The diversity and robustness of soil invertebrates in particular is considered to be a great indicator of soil health and good soil management practices.4 This ecosystem within the soil is responsible for breaking down dead organic matter and converting it into nutrients for future growth.
Additionally, bacterial communities are responsible for nutrient cycling: soil bacteria metabolize active carbon exuded from the living plant roots, mineralizing and releasing nitrogen as they (the bacteria) die.
Fungi also helps with nutrient availability by helping plants break down and absorb nutrients.
Ideally, a healthy soil is 2-5% organic matter, including its ecosystem.5
Soil health also affects the water dynamics of the soil. A soil full of both organic matter and a robust ecosystem is less dense and therefore more porous than a less active soil with a lower percentage of organic matter.
High soil porosity allows water to seep into the ground, providing crops with adequate water saturation and preventing soil erosion. Ideal soil porosity is considered to be 50% void space and 50% solids.6
A high percentage of organic matter also increases the soil's capacity to hold water. This allows for less wasted water run-off and more water available directly to the crops.7
Though most consumers don’t realize it, soil is one of the largest sources of food contamination.8
Soil is what’s called a “universal sink”: air and water pollution from industrial and agricultural processes (in addition to many smaller sources), all end up in the ground.9 This is especially dangerous to crops of Cannabis sativa (industrial hemp) since it is a hyperaccumulator.
Hyperaccumulators sponge up contaminants from the soil through a process called phytoremediation.10
While this can be beneficial in other applications, farmers growing hemp are at risk for growing contaminated crops.
The contaminants trickle down the production line and inevitably end up in CBD destined for human and animal consumption.
Both nutrient-dense produce and healthier products comes from healthy soil.
Soil rich in biodiversity and organic matter will provide more nutrients to crops and thus create higher crop productivity.
The soil’s capacity to prevent erosion and provide water to crops is dependent on an active soil ecosystem full of organic matter of at least 2-5%.
Cedar Meadow Farm fields contain over 6% organic matter!
Good and consistent soil management practices will create a healthy soil and remove contaminants over time to nourish healthier crops.
For almost three decades Cedar Meadow Farm has focused on soil health and management practices resulting in healthier CBD hemp.