In recent years, global attention has been drawn to the importance of a healthy soil. One of the key facts emphasized by the Food and Agricultural Organization was that sustainable management of soils can lead to a 58% increase in food production (FAO, 2015). Soil nutrient composition plays a key role in determining the health of a soil.
Healthy soil must have all the essential elements in the right proportions to support healthy plant growth throughout its life cycle. It must have strong and diverse microbial activity. Good management builds, supports and maintains this diverse population of soil microorganisms.
What makes a good soil?
There are three main particle sizes in the physical part to soil; sand, silt, and clay. In most cases, a sandy loam is the best.
Test your soil: Use a clean, empty jar with a tight lid.
One teaspoon of healthy soil contains 100,000,000,000 individual bacteria.
Soil organisms play critical roles in plant health and water dynamics. Processes that soil organisms contribute to include: nutrient cycling, nutrient retention, water infiltration and water-holding capacity, disease suppression, degradation of pollutants, increasing the soil’s biological diversity, and improving soil structure.
Soil biological processes are responsible for supplying approximately 75 percent of the plant-available nitrogen and 65 percent of the available phosphorus in the soil. Like all organisms, those inhabiting soil need food and a favorable environment. Adequate organic matter content, ample aeration, moderate moisture, neutral pH and warm temperatures all favor increased microbial activity.
There are two ways to get elements into soil — biological and synthetic:
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