We are surrounded by fields of bare soil pretty much 8 moths of the year. If weeds grow over winter they are ‘burnt off’ with roundup from our friends at Monsanto. The chemical does not work on ryegrass around here anymore as it has become resistant to gylphosphate so they have to add another delicious pesticide.
This is a crime as sunlight and plants can sequester carbon from the atmosphere providing food for the soil micro fauna who in turn create soil. We live on this earth because of top soil in which we grow the crops we eat. Sounds simple but the facts are ignored because of short term financial gain. I am rare in the parts as every farmer around me has inherited their land. For me it was a very hard journey and sacrifice for my family to be able to ‘buy’ this land. It is precious and I am borrowing it from my children. I think that changes how you farm, I am very aware that I must not mess it up.
We grow pasture for the chickens and in between the rows of vines we grow a mixed cover crop. Why mixed? It does seem that multi-specifies crops do better, like in nature. There are peas and beans with vetch and grains to support the vines as they grow. The soil fauna on the roots of the peas and beans fix nitrogen from the air which is in turn released to the growing vines.
A new generation of cover crops will be sown here next fall, low growing native species to, in some way, mimic what was here before. These cover crops have huge root masses but very little top growth. We learnt about these from Dr Elaine Ingham at the permaculture conference las month in Temecula. soilfoodweb.com