Presentation on theme: "Mary Bianchi University of California Cooperative Extension."— Presentation transcript:
Mary Bianchi University of California Cooperative Extension
Our agenda for today Basic soil principles The things we add to our soils Amendments Mulches Compost Fertilizers
Soils for the Gardener Why are Soils Important to Sustainability? Landscapes with local conditions in mind Optimal growing conditions, or The right plant in the right place! Landscapes that conserve and protect Water, air and soil quality Energy Landscapes that send less to the landfill Composting, recycling, water and fertilizer conservation
Soils for the Gardener The Soil Habitat Webster’s Dictionary definition of habitat: the site where a plant normally lives and grows
Copyright 1999 Oregon State University Soils for the Gardener
What will the roots experience in this soil? Photo by Jim Fortner, USDA NRCS
Soils for the Gardener What would a root need to thrive in the soil habitat? Space Air Water Food Diversity!!
Soils for the Gardener What would a root need to survive in the soil habitat? Space
Do these roots need different spaces? Copyright 1999 Oregon State University Soils for the Gardener
Courtesy of Southern Nevada Water Authority Roots Under Perfect Growing Conditions
Soils for the Gardener What would a root need to survive in the soil habitat? Space Think vertically! How can you give a root more room to grow vertically?
Soils for the Gardener What would a root need to survive in the soil habitat? Air Respiration
Soils for the Gardener Pore space Pore space is the conveyor of oxygen, water, dissolved nutrients and provider of space for root growth Soil texture and soil structure influence the amount of pore space in the soil
Soil texture is the percentage of Sand Silt Clay
Soils for the Gardener Can you change soil texture? Remember soil texture is the percentage of Sand Silt Clay
Soils for the Gardener Courtesy of Soil Science Society of America Soil Textural Triangle % clay % silt % sand 100% clay 100% sand 100% silt
Soils for the Gardener Courtesy of Soil Science Society of America Soil Textural Triangle clay silt sand
Soils for the Gardener Courtesy of Soil Science Society of America Soil Textural Triangle
Soils for the Gardener Courtesy of Soil Science Society of America Soil Textural Triangle Sandy loam
Soils for the Gardener Courtesy of Soil Science Society of America Soil Textural Triangle Loam 50-70% clay 30-50% silt 25-50% sand
Soil structure Soil structure refers to form of aggregates Except for sands, soil particles don’t exist as single particles but as aggregates
Soils for the Gardener We want to improve pore space Air Space for roots Water Nutrients How can we do it?
Structure and diversity go hand in hand Organic matter in the soil affects soil structure Humus, plant and microbial exudates, and earthworm activity act as “binding” agents for improving soil structure.
Soils for the Gardener Lumbricus spp. - Nightcrawler
SOILS FOR THE GARDENER A wonderful earthworm website http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/worms/
Soils for the Gardener What would a root need to survive in the soil habitat? Water
Soils for the Gardener er Wat er There’s two kinds of people in the world:
Soils for the Gardener Water There’s two kinds of people in the world: Those that over-water Those that under-water
Water Conservation Know your soil reservoir Rooting depth of the plant
How deep to water Leafy vegetables and annual bedding plants 6 inches to 1 foot Small shrubs, cool-season turf, corn, tomatoes 1 to 2 feet Large shrubs, trees, warm-season turf 1.5 to 5 feet
Water Conservation Know your soil reservoir Rooting depth of the plant Soil water holding capacity
Soil water characteristics for typical soil texture classes Soil TexturePlant-available water per foot of soil depth Gallons of water per cubic foot of soil Sand0.5 – 1.00.33 – 0.66 Sandy loam1.0 – 1.50.66 – 1.00 Clay loam1.5 – 2.01.00 – 1.33 Clay1.5 – 2.51.00-1.66
Water Conservation Know your soil reservoir Soil water holding capacity Rooting depth of the plant Track storage capacity of the reservoir “Feel Test” pg 79 MG Handbook
Water Conservation Know your soil reservoir Soil water holding capacity Rooting depth of the plant Track storage capacity of the reservoir “Feel Test” pg 79 MG Handbook Soil Moisture Meters
Water Conservation Know your soil reservoir Soil water holding capacity Rooting depth of the plant Track storage capacity of the reservoir “Feel Test” pg 79 MG Handbook Soil Moisture Meters Set Priorities
Soils for the Gardener What are the impacts of over-watering on the habitat of the plant? Remember the roots need Space Air Water Food
Soils for the Gardener What are the impacts of over-watering on the habitat of the plant? Pore spaces are filled with water Roots can’t respire Nutrient uptake reduced Disease incidence may increase Impacts on other soil microflora and fauna
Soils for the Gardener What are the impacts of under-watering on the habitat of the plant?
Soils for the Gardener What are the impacts of under-watering on the habitat of the plant? Water requirements of plant not met Less root growth Less nutrient uptake Impacts on other soil microflora and fauna
It’s time to switch presentations and take time to stand and stretch!!
Soils for the Gardener What would a root need to survive in the soil habitat? Food - Is the root a fussy eater?
Plant nutrients the root does not care whether its nutrients were derived from organic or inorganic sources – advantages?
NUTRIENTS PLANTS NEED MANY BASIC ELEMENTS FOR PLANT GROWTH – -NITROGEN (N) -MANGANESE (Mn) -PHOSPHORUS (P) -BORON (B) -POTASSIUM (K) -CHLORINE (Cl) -CALCIUM (Ca) -COPPER (Cu) -SULFUR (S) -MOLYBDENUM (Mo) -MAGNESIUM (Mg) -OXYGEN (O) -IRON (Fe) -CARBON (C ) -ZINC (Zn) -HYDROGEN (H) -NICKEL (Ni)
Soils for the Gardener Plant nutrient deficiencies Absolute deficiency Nutrient is absent from soil What type of soils? Addition of organic matter may not provide all that the root needs will increase the ability of the soil, especially sandy soils, to hold onto nutrients
Soils for the Gardener How does the deficiency of zinc affect the roots? Courtesy of Ohio State University How does that affect the deficiency in zinc?
Soils for the Gardener Plant nutrient deficiencies Induced deficiency Nutrient is present in adequate amounts Something is preventing its uptake ?
Induced deficiency Nutrient is present in adequate amounts Something is preventing its uptake Low water availability Low oxygen availability Damage to root system from disease Soil pH
Soil pH measures active acidity (Source: "Nutrient Management for Agronomic Crops in Nebraska," EC01-155)
pH of the soil Relative acidity or alkalinity Function of hydrogen ion concentration Acid soils have pH =< ? Alkaline soils have pH=> ?
pH of the soil Most plants prefer pH = ? What are some exceptions? Why is a neutral pH preferred?
Our next topic for today Basic soil principles The things we add to our soils Amendments Mulches Compost
Fertilizers and Soil Amendments Which one is it? Fertilizers affect plant growth directly improve the supply of available nutrients Amendments affect plant growth indirectly improve the soil’s physical condition
Amending Individual Planting Sites Courtesy of UC OHRIC
Amending Annual Planting Sites Courtesy of Aggie Horticulture, TAMU
Photo courtesy of Gary Johnson University of Minnesota Extension Service Amending planting sites for trees and why we don’t recommend it
Fertilizers and Soil Amendments When should you amend a landscape soil? Not all sites require amendments Important to clearly identify the problem Chemical Physical
Fertilizers and Soil Amendments Chemical Problems in Landscape Soils Where soil pH is high - sulfur takes time - mediated by microorganisms temperature and moisture dependent Where soil pH is low - lime can increase rather quickly Soluble Salts
Soluble salts come from several sources Salt moves with water Salts that ARE dissolved in water Salts that are ADDED to water Salts that GET dissolved in water
A – Components of Salinity Cations: Ca ++ Mg ++ Na + (toxic ion) K + Anions: Cl - (toxic ion) SO 4 -- CO 3 -- HCO 3 - NO 3 - (nitrates) pHSpecific Ion Toxicity: Na, Cl, Boron Alkalinity: CO 3 -- + HCO 3 -
A - Salts in water 1 acre-ft of water with an EC =1 contains 1 ton of salt or 2 tablespoons of salt per 10 gallons
Salt Accumulation with Drip Irrigation Drip line Salt Accumulation Balancing deep percolation with distribution uniformity with...
What is Compost???? UC definition of Compost: “Compost is the biologically active material that results from microbial decomposition of organic matter under controlled conditions.” (Compost Production and Utilization, UC ANR Pub. #21514)
Felder Rushing’s Two Rules of Composting: 1)Stop throwing that stuff away! 2)Pile it up somewhere!
A Compost Pile is an Ecosystem Function = decomposition of organic matter
The Compost Process depends on: Organic Matter Composition Carbon (Browns) Nitrogen (Greens) Microorganisms Macroorganisms Water Oxygen Temperature
Organic Matter: Carbon or “Browns” Carbon rich sources are called “browns” Usually dry, low moisture content, lightweight Examples: dry leaves, straw, sawdust, wood chips, corn stalks
Organic Matter: Nitrogen or “Greens” N is needed to get the decomposition process started and keep pile “cookin” Examples: vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, manures, and alfalfa hay
Carbon:Nitrogen Ratio Optimal C:N ratio is 30:1 at an elemental level Carbon supplies energy for bacteria and Nitrogen supplies nutrients (proteins). Balance material ratios to get 30:1 ratio: e.g. 1/5 oak leaves 26:11/5 poultry manure 10:1 1/5 pine needles 85:11/5 grass clippings 20:1 1/5 food scraps 15:1 C:N ratio = ~31:1 Approximately equal volumes of greens and browns provides a good C:N ratio
Microorganisms Bacteria begin breakdown process – aerobic bacteria feed on plant sugars and respire to “heat up” pile In the right conditions, population growth is amazing—bacteria can double every hour!
Microorganisms Four Types of Bacteria Psychrophilic: work at lower temperatures Mesophilic: thrive between 70-90°F Thermophilic: work from 113-200°F short “work week” 3-5 days, turn pile to reactivate Anaerobic Closed air bins, wet piles or too dense - not aerated Fermentation & odors from anaerobic decomposition Pile does not heat up, so doesn’t kill pathogens/weeds
More Microorganisms… Fungi: active in end stages of composting - live on dead or dying material Actinomycetes: halfway between bacteria & fungi – gray-white cobweb type material in compost pile, also active in later stages of composting actinomycetes
Macroorganisms As temperatures decline, population diversity increases: Nematodes: sightless, brainless roundworms, <1 mm long. prey on bacteria, protozoa, fungal spores Fermentation or mold mites Springtails tiny white insects
Macroorganisms Wolf spiders: build no webs, run free hunting their prey Centipedes: flattened body, long legs, fast moving Millipedes: worm-like body with hard plates, up to 6” long. Slow moving vegetarians that help in breaking down OM. Sowbugs & pillbugs (Isopods) small, fat-bodied decomposers with gills. Pillbugs roll into a ball, sow bugs don’t. Feed on rotting woody materials Pillbug Sowbug
Macroorganisms Beetles: rove beetle, ground beetle, and feather winged beetle Earthworms: native redworms Enchytraeids, (Ehn kee tray' id) white or pot worms, ¼ - 1” long, white & segmented Flies: feed on any organic matter. Bury kitchen scraps well, keep fatty foods out of the pile to control. Whiteworms
Macroorganisms Snails and Slugs: Feed on living plant material, garbage and plant debris. Fruit beetle larvae: large grubs, 2” long & C-shaped; translucent white, head is dark brown. Ants: feed on aphid honeydew, fungi, seed, sweets, scraps, other insects, and other ants. Compost provides food and shelter. Ants usually mean pile is too dry. Earwigs: predators of all stages of insects, mites & nematodes, also algae, fungi & plants.
Water & Oxygen Balance oxygen and water in the compost pile: 50% moisture + 50% O 2 Consider moisture content of added materials (food scraps!) Compost should be about as moist as a well wrung-out sponge. It should be moist to touch but yield no liquid when squeezed.
Water in the Pile Wet pile: pull it apart, loosen it, incorporate dry materials and remake it. Dry pile: turn & rewet material as it is being turned (some browns are hard to moisten) Seasonal considerations!!!
Oxygen Aerobic composting is preferable Anaerobic decomposition or fermentation may produce compounds toxic to plants produces ammonia & methane gas – smelly! Passive aeration: air is warmed by the compost process, rises through the pile, pulls in fresh air from the sides. Active aeration: turn and mix the compost, or build the pile effectively so surface air diffuses in
Temperature! Temperature is a function of: pile size, oxygen & moisture content Temperature affects biological activity: Most microorganisms active between 95 - 160ºF Best decomposer bacteria thrive at 122 - 131ºF. Above 140ºF kills pathogens & weed seeds, but slows decomposition.
Temperature Optimum is 2 weeks of temperatures around 135º Turning the compost whenever temperatures get above or below the optimum range produces high quality compost in the shortest possible time. If compost is properly moist and turning does not cause temperatures to rise, the compost is finished or needs more nitrogen.
“It depends” on: Density of material Particle size (amount of exposed surface area) C & N content Moisture content Aeration Volume Insulating materials around the pile How long does it take?
Making the Pile: Important Considerations Size of pile should be 3’x3’x3’ to 5’x5’x5’ Do you have all the organic material (batch) or will you add continuously (continuous)? Have you chopped up your materials? Moisture and aeration: what’s the rule? Compost tools: hay fork, aerator…
Composting Methods Standard Method: Need a variety of materials Turn it each week 4-6 weeks for finished compost (summer)
Rapid Composting Method Need large supply of organic materials Requires substantial chopping and shredding and more turning of the pile Can take less than one month in ideal conditions.
Slow, Continuous or Static Method – It’s not a moral issue If a steady supply of organic materials is not available Takes very little time or labor Requires 6 months to 2 years to produce compost Smaller compost area needed, because pile is built as materials are available Little if any heat is produced, so weeds & pathogens are not killed
Grass clippings Yard waste Leaves, pine needles Vegetable trimmings Food scraps Wood chips (shredded to size) Newsprint Sawdust What goes in the Pile?
Disease infected plants Plants with severe insect attack Ivy, morning glory and succulents Pernicious weeds, e.g. Bermuda grass, oxalis, cheeseweed Cat and dog manures Meat and fish scraps Wood ash (add after composting is finished) What does NOT go in the Pile?
BUT… What are some issues that complicate composting??? Compost Happens!
Benefits of organic matter as an amendment Reduces compaction ‘Humus’ -- derived from OM and resistant to further decomposition aids in formation of soil aggregates Organic Matter provides food source for earthworms and saprophytic organisms
When can the addition of OM cause problems in the home garden? Cyclic relationship between activities of decomposers and availability of nutrients Especially NO 3 - Induced deficiencies
Nitrogen Immobilization NO 3 - depletion time Time Activity of decay organisms High C:N Addition Nitrogen level of soil
What about OM as a mulch? Mulches are not incorporated into the soil Petunia example!!
Petunia Example Petunias planted and then mulched Petunias planted – no mulch applied Mulch applied and then petunias planted
Petunia Example Petunias planted and then mulched Petunias planted – no mulch applied Mulch applied and then petunias planted
Mulches can save water Materials put on top of soil Reduce water evaporation – why? Prevent weed problems Buffer soil temperatures Be careful with native plants!! Desert pavement serves as a mulch
Should I use fertilizers? Garden soils rarely contain all required nutrients Equally rare for garden soil to be deficient in several Add only the ones that are deficient Careful with nitrogen in cold climates
Don’t apply fertilizer before projected rain event www.phschool.com