Soil health improves, less herbicide is used and a denser crop is grown when farmers plant in the recommended grid pattern
Spotted: Researchers recently found that crops planted in a grid pattern greatly improve the overall yield of a field. The study, conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Northeast Agricultural University in China, focused on some of the world’s most common food crops, including soy and wheat. Spatial uniformity in planting crops was found to significantly improve the health of the soil and surrounding land.
Currently, most crops are sown in long, straight rows, and within each row, there is much variation in spacing. When the recommended grid pattern of planting is used, plants are a uniform distance from one another, both between rows and within rows. This helps substantially reduce the need for herbicide, as the more consistent spread of plants and their leaves helps to smother weed growth.
Additionally, the evenly spaced plants ensure a larger underground area is covered with roots, strengthening the soil’s ability to retain nutrients and reducing runoff after storms. Traditionally difficult to achieve on a large scale, the research team believes that new technologies are making such planting patterns achievable. While buying a new machine is an initial cost, increased crop yield and reduced weed-fighting expenses should help pay for the expense.
Other innovations spotted by Springwise that are helping to improve agriculture include a blockchain-based market system in Haiti and an app that uses IoT data to forecast farmers’ water needs and help them manage water usage.