Soil Fertility : The Complete Guide
To study of supplying nutrients from soil to plant is known as soil fertility. Soil Fertility is part of Pedology i.e. Study of Soils in their natural environment. It is the capacity of soil to support the plant growth. So, capacity/strength of soil is tested. Fertility of soil can affect by 3 major components:
Chemical Soil Fertility
Physical Soil Fertility
Biological Soil Fertility
Soil chemistry is concerned with availability of elements for plants that might be present at level that are detrimental to plant & its growth. Soil pH is most important chemical property.
It should be in range of 5.5-9.0 to support plant growth.
Physical Properties of soil affect soil fertility by movement of soil through water, root penetration of soil etc. Important physical property that affects fertility of soil is texture & structure. Texture is proportion of sand & clay in soil. Structure is amount of pores in soil.
Texture & structure also should be in desirable limits to support plant growth.
Many varieties of organisms live in soil. Soil contains Bacteria, Fungi, insects & earthworm etc. They are efficient because the transform nutrients from one place to other degrade toxic substance from soil. Hence, Biological fertility is effective than physical and chemical fertility.
Soil Testing can give early warning of land degradation. So it is very important to conduct soil testing regularly.
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Reasons to Degrade Soil Fertility
Major Reasons for degradation of soil fertility are Deforestation, overgrazing, Heavy monsoon, slopes, Soils with low resistance to water erosion, wrong crop rotation, and improper fertilizers usage etc. any one reason mentioned earlier is enough for land degradation or It can reduce the amount of yield from soil.
How to maintain chemical Soil Fertility
Chemical fertility is the ability of soil to provide all nutrients required to crop. Normally nutrients are not directly available to crop. To make nutrients available to crop it should be associated with organic matter. Chemical fertility or organic matter can be increased or maintained by using fertilizers, compost, Lime and manure.
How to maintain Physical soil fertility
The Physical soil fertility is the ability of soil to hold the water and air into it to provide anchor to root of the crop. To provide air to root of crop it should have interconnected pore space. Soil tillage can harm soil physical fertility so it is recommended that reduce soil tillage to minimum.
How to maintain Biological soil fertility
Soil biological fertility is number of fauna and flora present in the soil. Biological activity is very much needed to breakdown crop residues remained in soil. Also insects, earthworms help to improve sponginess and pores steadiness of soil. To maintain and improve Biological soil fertility stop soil tillage and leave plant remainder in soil as much as possible.
How Soil Degradation can be avoided?
Below mentioned are points can help us to avoid Soil Degradation.
1) Avoid Soil tillage
2) Leave crop residue as much as possible
3) If soil is acidic then apply lime as per recommendation to maintain pH
4) Rotate crops every year
5) Keep sufficient time between two crops to restore soil biological fertility
Learn More about Soil Sediment sampling process.
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