When yield is the goal we focus on, we manage plant nutrition to produce the highest yields possible. It becomes strictly a numbers game, making certain the crop has adequate quantities of water, sunlight, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and possibly other nutrients to reach our yield goals.
Soil health and microbial populations are discounted and disregarded, as they are not perceived to contribute to yields.
Of course, this approach generates a lot of externalized costs to the environment.
A better approach is to focus on producing quality.
The goal is to achieve both exceptional quality AND yield. This is not a case where we can only achieve one at the expense of the other. We can achieve both at the same time.
When we produce crops with higher test weight, protein content, sugar content, fat content, soluble solids, shelf life, storability, or whatever metric defines quality in the crop we are producing, we begin thinking differently about how we manage nutrition. Soil health and microbial populations become important considerations. It is necessary to manage calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and a dozen additional trace minerals.
This approach generates a lot of external benefits to the ecosystem. Pest pressure is reduced, carbon is sequestered, soil health is regenerated.
Best of all, when plants become vibrantly healthy, you can’t stop yields from happening.
The healthiest crops are the highest quality crops. And also the highest yielding.