Soil health is it important to you the landowner?
For many people, soil is simply a medium for plants and trees. This view of the soil doesn’t do it justice because it is so much more. Last month I talked about soil health being the balance between the chemical, physical and biological properties of the soil. Today we will briefly discuss the chemical importance of the soil.
There are 17 essential nutrients the plant needs to grow and thrive. It is when you have a balanced soil chemistry that many of these nutrients become available. The pH, or how acid or alkaline the soil is, has a huge effect on available nutrition. The ideal pH for many crops is between 6.2 and 6.8, but plants like blueberries or azaleas prefer a lower pH. With a slightly acid environment, nutrients can be made available from minerals in the soil. Plants, when growing, also secrete an acid that aids in this process and actually feed themselves. So having something growing in the field all the time will impact nutrition in the soil. This is an amazing process!
Look at the Soil Chemistry to Improve Soil Health
The chemistry of the soil, especially calcium and magnesium, also plays a major role in how well the soils hold water and even drain excess water. This ability to manage water has a big effect on the biological systems in the soil. The soil’s ability to move water can eliminate water-logged environments which can impact plant roots and the biology around them. Having an ideal percentage of calcium and magnesium is very important.
Calcium and magnesium also impact the amount of oxygen in the soil. Oxygen is a necessity to life for the biology that live in the soil and interact with the plant. Just like you and I, plants need oxygen too. If you really think about it, oxygen might be the most important nutrient in the soil, but is talked about the least.
So as you think of your farm, consider how available the oxygen is and how you can improve it. Many farmers today are not as knowledgeable about soil chemistry as they should be. If you are not working with someone who has the knowledge and understanding to bring value to your soil, it may be time for a change. Bird Dog can help; call me today.