Versatile good soil environment
Without versatile good soil environment, we cannot survive. There are more than 50 million species of bacteria and more than 50 million species of fungi in the soil. So far, we have only named one per cent of these, and our knowledge of this one per cent is limited.
How nutritious soil forms
In nature, processes that create versatile good soil environmentnew are always underway such as:
⇾ Shallow marine environments: marshes, mangrove swamps, riverbeds, and coastal waters.
⇾ Shallow lakes and ponds: Where large amounts of organic matter from different places gather. Imagine a gutter that hasn’t been cleaned – plants quickly take hold, and soil forms. Even if submerged or subaqueous soils aren’t the same as soils on dry land, they still work the same when the water disappears.
⇾ The forest is continuously acting as a single, massive compost.
⇾ Grasslands: These become more fertile when animals graze an area. The soil is oxygenated thanks to the animals walking on it, and it is fertilized by the manure they leave behind. The winds bring heaps of nutrients that end up in all the little crevices of the ground, like seeds, for example, seeds that then grow to feed all the things living there.
⇾ Compost-based horticulture: These create lots of good, nutritious soil. With this technique, everyone can do their part in regenerating nutritious soil. As an added bonus, the food becomes more nutritious as well.
Prerequisites for a versatile good soil environment
Some components must be in balance to make a versatile good soil environment. The components are the following.
The water contained in the ground – either from rain or irrigation – manages the transportation of water-soluble nutrients to the plants for their roots to access.
Even if you don’t want your lands waterlogged, it is almost always preferable to slow the water’s progression through the ground. This slowing is done to allow the plants a long time to utilize more of the nutrition that passes by. One way of slowing the water down is to add organic material that sucks up water without causing any problems. Another way is through mulching, which reduces evaporation. In addition, mulching protects the soil from erosion due to winds.
The mineral composition in the soil determines how fast the water moves. Pure clay gives the slowest flow of water, while sand provides the fastest. The sweet spot is a mixture of both types so that the soil retains moisture without becoming waterlogged.
Gases are not usually what you think of when it comes to good versus bad soil. Nevertheless, these are crucial if you want to succeed at growing things. The three primary gases in healthy soil are oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, while the oxygen that forms from it is used by creatures living in the soil. Nitrogen is needed for plants to build proteins, perform photosynthesis, and form DNA. A balanced exchange of gases between soil and air ensures that there is the right amount of oxygen in the ground – so that plants and micro-organisms can thrive. There is a risk of potentially harmful levels of other gases building up without a balanced exchange, such as sulfur dioxide.
The efficiency of the exchange of gases is linked to the soil’s structure and composition and primarily occurs as follows: When it rains (or when irrigation is used), the water penetrates the ground, and the gases are pushed up into the air. The opposite happens when water from within the ground evaporates, and the air is drawn into the soil. The most common form of gas exchange, however, depends on the respective pressure of the gases. For example; if the pressure of carbon dioxide is higher in the air than in the ground, the carbon dioxide will move down into the ground to create equilibrium and vice versa.
Organic matter is the magic ingredient of healthy soil. It provides nutrients, helps with mineral composition, and affects moisture retention. Organic matter also provides food for all the microorganisms living within the soil. You can never have too much organic matter in the ground, and it is essential always to return the nutrition that has been removed. This returning is best done through mulching or composting. When harvesting, it is advisable to leave what you don’t need on the ground – such as fibrous waste, leaves, stems, and other organic matter.
When the gases and water levels in the ground are in balance, and if there is enough organic matter there, you will have soil teeming with microorganisms. These organisms – bacteria, fungi, and insects – ultimately make for thriving soil. The microbes help to break down the nutrients present in the soil so that the plants can access them. These organisms also break up the soil, which provides room for roots, air, and water. And, when they eventually die, they become part of the organic matter themselves. The more microorganisms – and the greater variety of species – the better because the ecosystem then becomes self-regulatory while also preventing attacks from pests and vermin.
How plants get their nutrition
Everything comes back to the ecosystem around the roots of a plant. One could say that a plant’s root system consists of primary taproots that “drink” and secondary fibrous roots that “eat” the nutrition needed in a proper plant diet.