The overall strategies of ecologically sound crop and soil management focus on prevention of factors that might limit plant growth. These three strategies are to grow healthy plants with enhanced defense capabilities, stress pests, and enhance beneficial organisms. There are a variety of practices that contribute to these overall goals and have been discussed in this chapter as enhancing both aboveground habitat and soil habitat. There is some overlap, because cover crops, crop rotations, and tillage have effects both above and below ground. The various practices that improve and maintain soil habitats are discussed in detail in the following chapters of part 3.

As indicated in figure 8.4, in addition to the work of prevention (mainly accomplished before and during planting), there are routine management practices that are carried out during the season, and remedial or reactive approaches may need to be used if prevention practices are not enough to take care of some potential threat to the crop. However, just as with human and animal health, prevention is preferred to curing a problem after it develops. For this reason, the orientation of the remaining sections of the book are on practices that help prevent problems from developing that might limit the growth or quality of plants.


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