How to Improve Quality of Soil

Fertility and texture are two most important components of good soil. Fertility refers to the essential nutrients in the soil and texture refers to the size and cohesiveness of the soil.

Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the three primary nutrients used by plants to grow. Nitrogen content in the soil promotes health leaf and stem growth; phosphorous is crucial for growth of roots as well as flowering bulbs and root crops; potassium for overall plant health. The pH of the soil plays an important role in the nutrient absorption ability of plants. For most plants a neutral pH range from 6.2-6.8 is acceptable but some are very particular. The best way to find the pH of soil is to have it tested. For improving pH it is a good idea to add lime to raise alkalinity and sulfur to lower the pH of soil. It is a simple process but you need to do it in stages.

In as far as texture is concerned, at one end is sandy soil, which has large particles. Water, air and roots can move freely in it and not very conducive to plant growth. At the other end is clay, which so cohesive that it leaves little room for water and air. Most soils are somewhere in between the two.

Presence of organic matter plays an important role in the quality of soil. While there is always some organic matter, dead plant and/or animal material, in the soil it is not always present in essential quantities. Adding decaying organic matter to the soil will give it tilth and helps sandy soil as it retains water, which would otherwise wash away. Organic matter also promotes microbial activity providing nutritional benefits.

The other option is to add artificial or inorganic fertilizers, which are cheaper and also act faster. This is actually not recommended because these do nothing to the soil but only feed the plant. In many cases, inorganic fertilizers actually harm the soil.



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