Soils containing excessive concentrations of sodium and magnesium can have detrimental effects on plant growth and productivity. These minerals can accumulate in the soil to high levels due to various factors, including irrigation with water containing high salt content, excessive application of fertilizers rich in these minerals, and the deposition of animal excreta from grazing animals, which contain significant amounts of sodium and magnesium.
Humus is a stabilized fraction of organic matter and is a general term referring to a heterogeneous mixture of different humic substances.
Keeping the soil covered is important for soil conservation. The abundance and diversity of food for soil organisms is what determines a soil’s natural productivity.
The soil is more than just a big blob of brown stuff. It has organic matter, mineral particles as well as a variety of microorganisms. The quantity of each of these determines the health of that soil.
Farmers that include lucerne as part of their pasture mixtures will benefit from free nitrogen both from the atmosphere and from an enhanced mineralisation rate that will be stimulated by diverse pastures. The free nitrogen will help reduce fertiliser costs and improve farm efficiency.
These two very simple visual assessments can give farmers an idea of how good the structure of the soil is on their farms. They are also a good demonstration of the benefits of soil carbon and how carbon contributes to well aggregated soil.
Charles Darwin, the father of earthworm science, once said: “Without the work of this humble creature, who knows nothing of the benefits he confers upon mankind, agriculture, as we know it, would be very difficult, if not wholly impossible”
As a farmer, your primary use for soil is for growing crops. Soil fulfils this function by being an anchor for plant roots and a store for water and nutrients. One of the soil properties that ensure that this happens effectively is soil structure.
The soil-water relationship is an interesting one. Water is more often than not the limiting factor in this relationship, but could our soils also be adding to the water shortage problems?
Do you have large cracks in your soil? This could be the result of excess sodium. Read this blog to see the positive impact of gypsum application on excess sodium and an improvement in soil structure.