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Soil Health & Fertility. Healthy Soil Performs Five Vital Functions: Regulates water - Soil helps control where rain, snowmelt, and irrigation water goes.

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Presentation on theme: "Soil Health & Fertility. Healthy Soil Performs Five Vital Functions: Regulates water - Soil helps control where rain, snowmelt, and irrigation water goes."— Presentation transcript:

1 Soil Health & Fertility

2 Healthy Soil Performs Five Vital Functions: Regulates water - Soil helps control where rain, snowmelt, and irrigation water goes. Water and dissolved solutes flow over the land or into and through the soil. Sustains plant and animal life - The diversity and productivity of living things depends on soil. Filters potential pollutants - The minerals and microbes in soil are responsible for filtering, buffering, degrading, immobilizing, and detoxifying organic and inorganic materials, including industrial and municipal by-products and atmospheric deposits. Cycles nutrients - Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and many other nutrients are stored, transformed, and cycled in the soil. Supports structures - Buildings need stable soil for support, and archeological treasures associated with human habitation are protected in soils.

3 To determine the level of nutrients found in a soil sample Accurate account of nutrient removal and replacement Crop production statistic To manage fertilizer applications Why We Need a Soil Analysis

4 A soil analysis is only as good as the soil sample submitted. * Sample problem areas and good areas * Sample different soil types * Sample for different crops * Use appropriate sampling techniques - probe 6” to 7” for tilled soil - probe 4” for untilled soil - minimum of 1 sample per 20 ac.

5 First Principle - Feed the soil and let the soil feed the plant. Second Principle – The fertility level we are working to achieve is the right amount of each nutrient. (Soil Balance) True soil balance means determining and adding the proper amount of each nutrient.

6 Fertilizers must have a positive charge to be held to the soil colloid. Positive charged elements are called cations. Colloids come from clay and organic matter and carry a negative charge. Negative sites on a clay particle will attract and hold positives.

7 Negatively charged elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur are called anions. Negative ions do not hold to the clay colloid and remain free to move in the soil solution or water.

8 The first thing to do for your land is to correctly measure the amount of clay and humus the soil has in it. That measure is – cation exchange capacity, or CEC. CEC is a measure of the capacity of the soil to exchange nutrients or “holding power”. A CEC of 10 will hold twice as many pounds of nutrients as a CEC of 5.

9  First: You must know the total exchange capacity (capacity of soil to hold plant nutrients) ◦ < 15 Low CEC Sandy Soil ◦ 15 – 25 or Ideal CEC ◦ >25 High CEC Clay Soil Soil Fertility

10 What this means for us? – High levels of one nutrient can affect the uptake of another nutrient – Example: Too much calcium in a soil can limit the uptake of potassium Too much potassium can limit the uptake of magnesium even if magnesium levels in the soil are high. Cation Exchange Capacity

11 Second: The base saturation percent (Specific % of nutrients needed for optimal plant growth) – What the soil is composed of in terms of cations – calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium) – Also tells the availability of these nutrients to plants An excess of any one of these four makes it “the weakest link in the chain” Soil Fertility

12  Ideal for Ca & Mg is total 80%  Clay soils need more Ca, sandy soils need more Mg  Cation Calcium should be 60% to 70% ◦ 60% in sandy soils ◦ 70% in clay soils  Cation Magnesium should be 10% to 20% ◦ 20% in sandy soils ◦ 10% in clay soils Soil Fertility

13 Yield and quality are determined by the percentages, not the pounds. Calcium60 – 70% Magnesium10 – 20% Potassium 3 – 5% Hydrogen10 – 15% Other Bases 2 – 4%

14 Too much Calcium ties up all other nutrients (every other nutrient has to ride over the back of Ca to get to the plant). Too much Nitrogen ties up Calcium and other elements; even Zinc. Too much Phosphorus ties up Zinc and Copper. Too much Potassium ties up Boron. Nutrient Imbalance

15 pH refers to how acidic or alkaline the soil is. pH – potential Hydrogen Range of 0 to 14 with 7 as neutral A change of one unit in the pH scale represents a 10-fold change in acidity or alkalinity pH

16 Affected by: – Fertilizers – Rain – Organic Matter – Soil microorganisms pH

17 Influenced by: – Calcium – Magnesium – Potassium – Sodium pH

18 Global variation in soil pH. Red = acidic soil. Yellow = neutral soil. Blue = alkaline soil. Black = no data.

19 Limestone is the most effective and inexpensive aid to adjust soil pH. – Dolomitic limestone – magnesium and calcium – Calcitic limestone – calcium Lime

20 Calcium influences pH, as does magnesium, potassium and sodium. Lime increases microbial activity, manages decomposition and overcomes the potential for Ca and Mg deficiencies. Lime

21 The pH will adjust to the proper level when all nutrients are corrected. Any nutrient required takes precedence over pH. When all nutrients are balanced, the pH will be right. As Ca concentration increases, it takes less nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to do the same job. Every other nutrient has to ride over the back of calcium to get into the plant.

22 Organic Matter Soil microorganisms decay organic matter and cycle nutrients back into forms that plants can use. The valuable link between soil carbon and your crop are soil microorganisms. OM effects nutrient cycles by chelating (chemically holding on to) nutrients, and preventing them from becoming insoluble and therefore unavailable to plants Without microbes, vital soil nutrients like Phosphorus remain present but unavailable to your crop.

23  Enhanced development of soil aggregates  Increased pore space  Increased infiltration and percolation rates  Increased water holding capacity and… Organic Matter

24 Greater capacity to hold and release nutrients Nutrient storage Improved cultivation ease (tilth) Promotes further biological activity Organic Matter

25 Five Ways Organic Matter Resists Soil Compaction 1.Surface residue resists compaction. It acts like a sponge to absorb weight and water. 2.Organic residues are less dense than soil particles. 3.Roots create voids and spaces for air and water. 4.Roots act like a biological valve to control oxygen in the soil. 5.Roots supply exudates to glue soil particles together to form macro-aggregates and supply food for microbes. Organic Matter

26 Humus  Humus refers to any organic matter that has reached a point of stability, where it will not break down any further.  Improves the structure of soil and contributes to moisture and nutrient retention.  Humus can hold the equivalent of 80-90% of its weight in water.  Allows soil organisms to feed and reproduce and is often described as the “life force” of the soil.

27 Nitrogen – Part of every living cell; important component of proteins, DNA, RNA – Directly involved in photosynthesis – Necessary component of vitamins – Aids in production and use of carbohydrates Nutrient Functions

28 Nitrogen Has a negative charge and attracts a positive charge. Excess N causes weakness in the plant. Ties up copper and zinc. Takes either sodium or calcium as a passenger. For every % Ca taken out by N, Mg goes up 1% Anhydrous Ammonia (free ammonia) is toxic to living organisms and raises pH.

29 Phosphorus – Energy exchange – Promotes early root formation and growth – Vital to seed formation – Increases water use and efficiency – Hastens maturity Nutrient Functions

30 Potassium – Essential for plant growth – Increases photosynthesis – Essential to protein synthesis – Improves quality of seed and fruits – Improves winter hardiness Nutrient Functions

31 Calcium – Continuous cell division and formation – Reduces plant respiration – Increases fruit set – Stimulates microbial activity Nutrient Functions

32 Magnesium – Key element in chlorophyll production – Improves utilization of Phosphorus – Activator and component of many plant enzymes Nutrient Functions

33 Sulfur 20 to 25 ppm minimum, 40 to 50 lb. of sulfur per acre. Adequate sulfur improves the palatability of any crop. Helps control excesses such as Mg and Na. Sulfur must move with water to carry excesses out. Ca must be >60% for sulfur to work.

34 Sulfur Sources Elemental Sulfur Ammonium Sulfate Copper Sulfate

35 Sodium Anything above 3% is considered excess. Proper Ca/Mg saturation can compensate for higher saturations of sodium.

36 Zinc Probably the most universally helpful of all the micro-nutrients. Instrumental in moisture absorption. 6 ppm minimum Pecans and other nuts are Zinc sensitive.

37 Boron A minimum of 0.80 ppm is recommended. Increases N availability to the plant. Helps in nodulation of legumes.

38 Soil Analysis reports are an important tool in managing nutrient removal and replacement. A Healthy Soil has a healthy biological system. Organic Matter promotes further biological activity. Balancing soil nutrients is very important. Calcium is important to microbial activity. Summary


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