Themes and discussion

Find out more about organic arable farming and organic livestock husbandry, join the discussions, and exchange ideas and information with colleagues and scientists.

Soil quality and fertility

Soil quality and fertility

Sustainable crop production is dependent on maintaining and improving soil quality and fertility, which are in turn dependent on organic matter in the soil and its impact on the soil’s chemical, biological and physical properties. Organic matter is the source of life for the immense variety of soil microbes and soil fauna that make nutrients available and build soil structure. Therefore, crop rotations should always include a phase that allows organic matter in the soil to build up i.e. through incorporating perennial grass-clover leys or catch crops during autumn and winter. To protect soil life, the input of nutrients via manure, crop residues or other fertilisers should be well-balanced. Compaction by heavy machinery should be avoided for the same reason.

On this page, you can find tools and resources to help you improve soil quality and fertility, and you can discuss the topic with others.

Most popular tool

Cover Crop (Rye) and No-Till System in Wisconsin

Erin Silva, University of Wisconsin, describes an organic no-till production technique using rye as cover crop to suppress weeds in the following…

Latest tool

Intercropping grain peas with barley

Intercropping of legumes with cereals is a promising possibility to produce fodder protein while creating few costs and using few resources. …



TitleIssuing organisationYear of releaseRating
A farmer’s guide to organic fruit and vegetable productionOrganic Centre Wales20083.5 (2)
Advanced system in wheat: Combination of agronomical levels: The French...-
Aerated compost tea (ACT) to improve soil biology and to act as a...20174.7 (3)
Assessing soil structure with two simple methods : Spade Test and mini 3D soil...2017
Autumn cover crops20183 (4)
Bringing the dirt to your doorstep: organic no-till weed managementRodale Institute20142.8 (4)
Catch crop in maize20174 (1)
Cereal Disease Encyclopaedia2008
Challenges of Organic Arable Farming 1st module: Strategies to enhance soil...2017
Challenges of Organic Arable Farming 2nd module: Fertilization strategies to...2017
Challenges of Organic Arable Farming 4th module: Technical tools, strategies...2017
Challenges of Organic Arable Farming - 6th module: Recovery and final synthesis2017
Choosing cover crops for arable crop rotations2018
Commercial organic fertiliser as supplementary fertilisers in potato crop...20174 (1)
Composting leaflet – agroecological approach at your farm20134.5 (2)
Control of creeping thistle by stubble cultivation20174.5 (2)
Controlled traffic farming: A new track for soil and weed control in organic...2018
Controlling docks by stubble cultivation20174.5 (2)
Cover Crop (Rye) and No-Till System in Wisconsin20145 (3)
Cover crop and living mulch toolboxTechnical University of Munich TUM, School of Life...20143.4 (10)
Cover crop management and termination2014
Cover crop mulches and no-till maize2018
Cover crop mulches and no-till soybean2017
Crop rotation and its ability to suppress perennial weeds20174.5 (2)
Crop rotation and its ability to suppress perennial weeds20163 (1)
Crop Rotation in Organic Systems-
Crop rotations on diversified farms2013
Cultivating a diverse wheat population suitable for low-input and organic...2017
Demonstration of Hoeing Machines in Arable FarmingResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2011
Demonstration of Plough Dethatchers20144.5 (2)
Determine compost quality using the cress tests2018
Direct drilling of winter cereals2018
Direct Sowing of MaizeResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2015
Direct sowing with green manure2018
Diverse fertility building leys in arable rotations20173.5 (2)
DSS "Weed Control in Organic Winter Wheat Production"2004
Earthworms: architects of fertile soilsResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20143.6 (11)
ECOPHYTOPIC – The portal for integrated crop protection of arable cropsLes Instituts Techniques Agricoles ACTA-3.3 (3)
Efficient nitrogen use from livestock manure2016
Efficient use of nitrogen from livestock manure20174 (2)
Friedrich Wenz on Soil Fertility and Reduced TillageResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20145 (1)
Getting your land ready to grow organically – certified or not2016
Grain legumes and soil fertility - Strategies for a successful cultivation20143.5 (2)
Green manure and cover crops in organic agriculture: general introductionFrench Research Institute for Organic Farming ITAB2012
Green manure and cover crops in organic agriculture: guide to the choice of the...French Research Institute for Organic Farming ITAB20124 (3)
Growing cover crops in organic arable crop rotations: Best practices from...20174 (2)
Growing cover crops in organic arable crop rotations: best practices from...2016
Hairy Vetch – an Excellent Green Manure for Dry Conditions20144 (2)
Healthy Grassland Soils Pocketbook2015
How to successfully convert to organic arable farming20175 (2)
Incorporating Green ManuresResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20134.5 (2)
Inter-row cultivation for mechanical weed control in winter oilseed rape-
Intercropping grain peas with barley2015
Knowledge exchange platform for agroecologySOLAGRO-3.2 (6)
LeNiBa - the KTBL / isip app for nitrogen balancing of legumes-
Ley Destruction with Shallow Ploughing or CultivatorsResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2016
Living mulch in vegetables2015
Managing for Soil Health on an Organic Farm - A Farmer's Perspective2014
Mechanical Weed Control in MaizeResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2013
Mechanical weeding in arable cropsFrench Research Institute for Organic Farming ITAB20124.6 (9)
Monitoring and comparing cover crop performances2018
Multispectral remote sensing in participatory on-farm variety trials2018
NDICEA - Nitrogen Planer – version 6.220144 (4)
New ways of stubble cultivation2010
Nitrogen budget calculator. A tool to calculate N-budgets in organic forage...Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung...20133.8 (4)
No-till cultivation of maize in rolled forage peas2017
Nutrient Budgeting: Organic Considerations for Implementing NRCS CPS 5902014
Nutrient management in farms in conversion to organicSächsische Landesanstalt für Umwelt,...2008
Nutrient supplyResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20112 (1)
Oregon Tilth 2017 WEBINAR SERIES2017
Organic CerealsResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20104 (2)
Organic Cover Cropping and Intercropping2011
Organic cultivation in autumn 2016 - Varieties, Seeds and Crop management2016
Organic Cultivation in Spring 2016 - Varieties, Seeds and Crop management2016
Organic Field Crop Production-
Organic no-till systems2013
Organic quality wheat production - Results of long-term field trials of...2016
Organic Small Grain Production2011
Organic Weed Management: A Practical Guide2000
Pest Management in Organic Cropping Systems-
Pest Management in Organic Production Systems2011
Potato Crop ManagementResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2010
Practical advice for organic production of lupinesLandesforschungsanstalt für Landwirtschaft und...20144 (4)
Practice Abstract: Intercropping grain peas with barley20174.3 (3)
Processing Quality of Organic WheatResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2015
Quick test for infiltration of arable soils2018
Reduced Tillage2014
Reduced Tillage Stubble Incorporation - Comparsion of Different Machine TypesResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20134 (1)
Reduced Tillage Systems - Practical Recommendation20143.7 (3)
Regionally adapted humus balance in organic farmingSächsische Landesanstalt für Umwelt,...20133.7 (3)
Results an lessons learnt from field vegetables activity - cabbage-
Results and lessons learnt from wheat-based cropping system activity-
Rolling of grains to prevent winter kill damage2017
ROTOR: organic crop rotation plannerLeibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research...20074.6 (9)
Satellite based and camera-controlled steering systems20152 (1)
Shallow Ploughing of Leys – Comparison of Different Plough and Cultivator Types2015
Simple building blocks for improved soil fertility – Look and judge yourself2007
SmartSOIL Tool20152 (3)
Soil and Fertility Management in Organic Systems-
Soil fertility - manure treatment2009
Soil protection and Crop Rotation2007
Soil quality test kit guideUnited States Department of Agriculture USDA20013.1 (7)
Soil tillageResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL2013
Sort Out Your Soil: A practical guide to green manuresCotswold Seeds Ltd , Garden Organic-4 (5)
Spade test2016
Testing peas for legume fatigue20175 (1)
The Basics of Soil FertilityResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20133.5 (2)
The Muencheberg Soil Quality Rating (SQR)Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research...20074 (4)
The Spade test - Visual soil assessment in the fieldResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL20164.5 (2)
The use of legumes - Nature-compatible cultivation practices2014
Transition to organic production-
Use of variety mixtures to reduce disease, increase resource-use efficiency...-
Using crop rotation to control wireworms20174 (1)
Visual soil assessment: field guide for croppingLandcare Research20004.4 (5)
Weed control in organic farming through mechanical solutionsUniversity of Kassel, Agricultural Engineering20113.5 (4)
Weed control in soy with the finger weeder2017
Weed harrowing in spring cereals-
Winter field peas as green manure before maize20174.5 (2)

Discussion forum

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