How to Improve Quality Of Soil And Information About Soil

How to Improve Quality Of Soil And Information About Soil

How to Improve Quality Of Soil And Information About Soil

What is Soil?

Soil is the material on the surface of the Earth consisting of mineral and organic materials, which act as a medium for the growth of vascular plants. Soil has several layers called strata. Each layer contains different kinds of materials or minerals. The topmost layer is referred to as ‘topsoil’, below which lies ‘subsoil’, the ‘substratum’, and finally the ‘bedrock’.

“Soil is one of the most valuable resources on Earth. It supports more living organisms than any other natural material, but we are abusing it because it’s so easy to take for granted.”

The Different Types of Soil And

Their characteristics are as follows-

Clay soil:

In clay soil, the spaces between the mineral particles can be seen clearly with a naked eye. Such soils have the excellent holding capacity for water and nutrients. However, it is difficult to expand those pores when wet leading to poor drainage and air exchange. Clay soils become hard when dry and sticky when wet. This makes it difficult to work with when constructing a garden.

Clay soils are good for growing trees and shrubs but, they make poor gardens.

Sandy soil:

Sandy soils resemble clay in that they have very small pores and poor ability to retain water and nutrients. However, they drain readily and tend not to compact. They also have a large capacity to absorb water. However, they have very low organic matter content and poor nutrient holding ability.

Sandy soils can be improved by adding compost or manure as well as some minerals such as lime and fertilizers that contain phosphorus and potash.

Loamy soil:

In loamy soil, all the essential properties exist in balance with each other. This is because loamy soils consist of a large amount of sand, silt, and clay in varying proportions. As a result, loamy soil has a good supply of plant nutrients as well as being easy to work with, and has the ability to retain water.

Loam soil serves as an ideal medium for growing plants because it retains moisture well and is rich in nutrients.

Silty soil:

Silty soils are mostly found where glaciers have pushed the parent material downslope, resulting in an accumulation of fine silts washed from glacial till or exposed glacial outwash plains. Sunny slopes that receive large amounts of rain or snowmelt runoff are particularly subject to developing slippery, silty slopes.

Silty soils are similar to loamy soils in that they have moderate amounts of sand, silt and clay. However, silts account for the majority of soil particles. As a result, silty soils drain more rapidly than loams while still retaining some moisture. While able to hold nutrients better than sandy or gravelly soils, they drain and dry out faster than clay soils.

Silty soil is easy to work with and it has moderate aeration and water-holding capacity.

How to Improve Quality Of Soil And Information About Soil

How to improve the quality of your soil

Almost all soils can be improved by adding organic matter like compost, manure, leaf mold, or old hay. If you are using garden soil for building purposes then it’s important that you get it tested. The local county Extension office will do this free of charge. They will also provide matter-of-fact advice on which amendments to add and how much to add. You can also get a price on bulk materials like lime and fertilizers if the need arises.

Why it’s important to have good quality soil in your garden or yard.

Good quality soil will provide the best conditions for plant growth and produce healthy, high-yielding vegetation.

The following values can be easily tested to see whether your soil is good enough for gardening purposes-

1) Drainage: Good garden soil should ‘breathe’ e.g.- It should be able to allow water to enter and allow excess water to drain out.

2) Water-holding capacity: Garden soil should retain moisture as much as possible for plant use.

3) Plant nutrients: Soil needs to provide the necessary elements required by plants so that they grow well, produce good yields and maintain their vigor.

4) Air Exchange: It should have the least amount of air exchange possible. Lack of air exchange will result in poor soil drainage and, eventually, root decay.

5) Soil structure: The best garden soils are those that are well aggregated i.e.- they have a porous structure, allowing unimpeded movement of roots through them.

6) Temperature: Soil should be well-drained to provide stable conditions for plant roots.

7) Texture: If soil is too fine, it packs together and becomes very dense. On the other hand, if it is too coarse or gravelly, its particles don’t bend easily and it remains loose.

8) Organic matter: Good garden soils contain plenty of organic matter, which improves their physical structure, adds nutrients, and increases the soil’s water-holding capacity.

9) Salinity: Soil salinity is greatly affected by climate and can be particularly hazardous in arid or semi-arid climates.

10) pH levels: A good garden soil has well-balanced chemical reactions. This is checked by testing the soil’s pH levels.

11) Alkalinity: Soil alkalinity is important for plants that require neutral soils although most plants will grow in slightly acidic soils too.

12) Aggressiveness: The aggressiveness of a soil refers to its ability to bind or break down organic matter, nutrients, pesticides, and lime.

How to Improve Quality Of Soil And Information About Soil

Tips for improving the quality of your soil

1) Mix 2-3 inches of organic material like composted leaves, grass clippings, and manure into the soil to provide food for beneficial microorganisms.

2) Improve your soil with gypsum if it’s a clay or silt loam and doesn’t drain well and contains no gravel.

3) To improve sandy soil, add sulfur or gypsum.

4) For loamy soil, add enough organic matter to create a loose texture and improve its water-retaining capacity.

5) Test your garden soil every few years to find out what amendments should be added.

6) Ensure that you don’t add too much of anyone’s amendment. The soil’s nutrient balance needs to be improved not replaced.

7) A few pounds of garden lime can help to lighten a soil that is too acidic or raise the pH level in alkaline soils.

8) Add organic amendments like compost, manure, and green manure crops because they have less potential for burning plants than do mineral amendments.

9) Azomite is a natural source of trace elements that can be used over a broad area to supplement soils low in these minerals.

10) Wood ash from burnt hardwood is alkaline and can be used to raise the pH level in acidic soils.

11) Rock phosphate is almost insoluble and needs to be acidified before plants can use it.

12) Bone meal, rock potash, sheep dung, and fish emulsion are all moderate sources of plant nutrients.

Common mistakes when gardening with soil

1) Using soil straight from forest or grassland. It needs to be enriched with organic matter, which takes time.

2) Incrementally adding too much fertilizer or lime at any one time. This will cause a nutrient imbalance in the soil and harm your plants.

3) Not testing garden soil regularly because it will prevent problems from arising and save you a lot of money.

4) Using soil that has been sitting around for more than a year. It is devoid of the microorganisms needed to nourish your plants.

5) Not adding enough organic matter, which can result in poor soil structure, low nutrient levels, and poor drainage.

6) Not practicing crop rotation regularly.

7) Planting seedlings in soil that doesn’t drain well, which can lead to root rot.

8) Fertilizing without first removing weeds.

9) Growing the same crops continuously in one spot. This is not recommended because it can cause nutrient imbalance and harm the soil.

10) Over-fertilizing with organic or mineral fertilizers can damage the soil’s structure and harm beneficial microorganisms.

11) Using compost that has not decomposed properly. It will contain too many nutrients for the plants and will burn them.

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