Steps to Improving Soil Fertility
Being a great gardener is to be an outstanding farmer of soil life. To grow healthy plants that are more resilient to drought stress and climate change you need fertile soil. Soil organisms are responsible for the movement of nutrients to the plant roots. Maintaining a large population of active soil organisms ensures that minerals and water are held in the soil and made available to plants.
One of the first steps to take to improve soil fertility is to test your soil and understand what minerals are (or aren’t) in the soil. Are there any imbalances? Is the soil too alkaline or acidic? How much (or little) organic matter is available?
Next step is to dig your shovel into the soil. Notice if there is air space in the soil, how many earthworms are active? Are there white fungal strands, millipedes and beetles crawling about? Or is the soil hard and lifeless?
Next, how does your soil drain? What is the soil texture? After irrigation or rain does the water lie on the surface? Oxygen is required in the soil to help with the plant’s uptake of nitrogen.
After taking a close look at your soil characteristics, you are now more informed of what your soil needs and what to apply to improve the fertility. Too often people have over-applied water-soluble nitrogen fertilizers thinking that more is better. Sure, you may get instant green-up but you could be killing the beneficial soil organisms with excess nitrogen and salts, and thus, in the long run wasting your time and money. Plus, water-soluble nitrogen fertilizers often result in rapid plant growth that is weak, spindly and more prone to pests and disease.
A more sustainable method of providing minerals and nutrients for the soil life is to apply a high-quality stable compost product such as humic acid. This component of the critically important humus helps with the release and availability of nutrients stored in the soil and balances the pH naturally. In addition to providing a food source for the microbes, humic acid alters the soil structure making it more friable, increasing pore spaces, and increasing water penetration. Since the humic acid (also known as humate) stays where you put it, you can apply it less often, giving you more time to relax, kick back and be grateful that the soil organisms are hard at work keeping your plants healthy and looking good!
Aqua-Flo can help you find the humate-based product that is best for your application.