Soil Management Practices In Organic Farming

For farmers looking for the best soil management practices, studying the way that organic farmers handle fertility in their fields is an excellent start. In this guide to using the right tools to building soil health for organic farmers, we’ll be covering soil health management practices that work for both organic and conventional farmers alike. 

Soil management practices include:

The Guide To Improving Soil Health in Organic Farming

Sustainable soil management practices, in general, cost more than those of the conventional farmer applying a one time liquid nitrogen. 

When considering your overall soil health, especially for organic farming, soil health management is a must do. 

There are many important factors to improving soil health on an organic farm, two of the most important are manure inputs and crop rotation. 

Manure Inputs for Organic Farming

One of the reasons we see clusters of organic farms is to due their physical proximity to manure. Whether it be chicken manure pellets, raw chicken manure, cow manure, or some other type of manure such as hog, having a consistent source of fertility is critical to your success as an organic farmer.

Finding a good source of manure for your organically farmed acres is not as simple as calling up the local co-op. It’s a very challenging and important tool for success in organic farming and getting a consistent supply is very important. 

Determining Crop Rotation for Organic Operations

Success on an organic farm involves a number of factors, one of the biggest being the correct crop rotation. Depleting the soil of resources and calling the local co-op for more fertility is not an option. 

Proper crop rotations must be developed to ensure your success on an organic farm. Every farming scenario is different and proper crop rotations vary by geographical location, we recommend finding a skilled agronomist that has experience farming organically in your area to ensure your best chance of success.

Photo shows a cover crop inter-seeded with a drone on a cash corn crop
mn certified organic

Managing Soil Health Organic Farming

Soil management varies considerably from operation to operation. We recommend working with an agronomist who has experience farming organically in your area, or better yet, one who does it successfully themselves.

1. Soil Sampling

Soil sampling is a critical tool for organic farmers, designed to inform them what types of and how much fertilizer they should be using. Following a soil sampling schedule will allow you to measure results and get a first hand look at how the soil on your organic acres is responding to the inputs and crop rotation you use.

2. Manure Based Fertilizer

Finding a quality, consistent source of fertilizer for your organic acres is critical to success on your farm. Without it, yields will suffer. There is no substitute for giving your crops the nutrition they need to succeed throughout the growing season.

3. Cover Crops

Working together with an agronomist will help you determine how to use cover crops more effectively on your organic acres. Crop Fertility Services offers custom drone seeding for cover crops across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

4. Liquid Organic Fertilizers

If no manure based fertilizers are available, or you have the benefit of an irrigation system on your organic acres, finding a liquid organic fertilizer will help to maintain and improve soil health. 

5. No Till Farming Methods

No till farming has soared in popularity, especially for it’s benefits for organic weed control in the organic farming community.

While it’s gained in popularity, there are major risks of using this strategy on the large scale organic farm.

No till is not as easy as set it and forget it, which is one of the main reasons why it’s not as widely adopted as folks initially anticipated. Farming organically requires intensive weed control and no-till provides unique challenges that inhibit success in the field.

6. Mechanical Weed Control

One thing that’s important to note is the fact that we are not “no till” organic farmers. We encourage the use of mechanical weed control in organic farming, including the use of tine weeders, cultivators, flame weeders, and weed zapping devices. 

Developing a weed control system on your organic acres is highly important to your crops success. Organic farmers deal with more weed issues than any other type of farmer and it’s critical that you have the right pieces of equipment to help manage these weeds. 

Tine Weeders

Tine weeding is one of the single most important methods of weed control in organic farming. 


Cultivators for organic farming are one of the most popular forms of mechanical weed control available. When paired with camera guidance systems and finger weeders, they are highly effective at reducing weed pressure on organic operations.

Flame Weeders

These tools allow farmers to burn weeds in their fields, while reducing overall damage to the crop itself. It’s important that you find a mentor or somebody with experience operating these as they can easily wipe out an entire crop if used incorrectly.

Weed Zapping

Weed zapping is typically done as a last resort, as at this point, weeds in your fields have gotten out of hand and run the risk of cutting your yield by 50% or more. 

7. Crop Rotation

Crop rotation plays a critical role in improving soil health on the organic farm. Crop rotation varies by region and it’s best to consult with an experienced organic agronomist when developing your crop rotation plan. 

8. Biological Pest Control

The use of biologicals in organic farming has varied over the past decade. While they have their place in certain organic operations, they’ve varied in popularity on others. Finding a trusted connection who has proven to successfully use these inputs is highly recommended.

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