I come from the old old old school where farmers cleaned the barn once a day and hauled the manure to the field. In spring it got tilled down into the soil. The old saying was the field next to the barn grew the best crops because many days it took to much time to haul the manure to the “back forty”. Some times they grew a spring crop that would be tilled back into the ground before planting the summer crop to add supplement to the soil.
Then the farms got big and you didn’t have time to cultivate the corn so they made Round-up, which kills ALL plant life except the “special” corn. That was bad but so much corn was harvested as "shelled: corn that the stalks and residue were left in the field for the following year. Now the don’t use silos any more, they use plastic, either in long tubes that they fill with corn silage or the pack the silage on the ground into huge mounds and cover it with plastic. This is all silage, which is harvested by cutting the stalks of at the ground level and grinding them into silage. With Round-up and making silage, there is NO vegetation to go back into the field.
The placing of manure on the field has all changed with the “mega” farms also and I won’t go into that subject but it is even more detrimental to our land than chemical farming.
What this rant boils down to is I have 120 acres of land. Some rich and some gravel. I would love to be a good care tacker of the land, but with that many acres, what can I do? You can’t compost from your own excesses enough to make a difference in that quantity of land. It is good that you can compost for a garden and if every human did that we could recover, but that isn’t going to happen. I now rent my land out and fortunately there is a big demand for land for the mega dairies and I do get to dictate some rules by making the land more expensive for the crops that don’t levee residue. Any practical recommendation on things I could do to improve the soil? TomC