US: Is there a way to revive drought-stricken soil?

In Colorado, potato-farming brothers are saving water by using cover crops innovatively. Among the myriad strategies farmers in Colorado’s San Luis Valley have attempted during a decade-long, soil-wracking drought is planting cover crops: efficient plants that enhance the soil’s ability to hold water. Cover cropping has helped Brendon Rockey slash water use by 40 percent and eliminate synthetic fertilizers. “It’s all about building a resilient system that takes care of itself,” Rockey said of his business, Rockey Farms, which he operates with his brother, Sheldon, 41. The Rockeys’ cover crop mix includes legumes that pull nitrogen from the air and store it in the soil, allowing the brothers to create nitrogen-rich fields without dousing them in chemicals. More organic matter in the ground, like decomposing roots of the cover crops, makes better soil; better soil needs less water; less water means more valley farmers can sustain their livelihoods. More