FOUR WAYS OF IMPROVING SOIL FERTILITY ( PART 2)
Farmers are sometimes up against the challenge of improving the soil on their farmlands. Not all soils are great for growing crops, and soil improvement is a common task for agricultural workers, whether they are engaged in a small project or a large one. In order to do soil improvements effectively, the individual will have to bring some specific skills and strategies to the table. Here are some of the commonly recommended ways to improve soil and raise the effective yield of a piece of farmland.
- Add the fertilizing material.Whether they use solid fertilizer, rotted manure, or compost, most farmers mix the addition thoroughly into the soil. Many crops do well with a 30% compost, 70% soil mix, but vegetables and fruits often do better with lower amounts of compost. Fertilizer amounts vary greatly depending on the concentration; follow the instructions for your particular plant.
If you think the manure or compost may not be rotted enough, keep a circle of regular soil around plants to avoid burning them.
- Add trace elements.There are many trace elements that have a less important or less direct effect, but can cause plant health issues or poor soil if they fall below required levels. The most important trace elements are iron, boron, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. The additives described here are natural and suitable for organic farming.
- Consider crop rotation.If you plant the same type of plant in the same location year after year, it will deplete the soil nutrients more quickly. Some plants will use fewer nutrients or even add nitrogen to the soil, so a rotating schedule of plants each year will keep the nutrient levels more stable.
For farming, consult an experienced local farmer or agricultural extension office, as the rotation plan varies depending on the available crops.
- Farmers can also consider using cover crops grown to provide nutrients for the real crop. Mow or cut the crop at least three or four weeks before the regular crop is planted, and leave the cover crop on the ground to decay.
- Consider adding beneficial fungi or bacteria.If your soil is kept well-aerated and supplied with nutrients, microbe populations will grow on their own, breaking down dead plant matter into nutrients your plants can reuse. For additional soil health, you may be able to purchase bacterial or fungal additions from a garden or farm supply store, if they are suitable for your plant species. Soil that already decomposes rapidly does not need these additions, although there is no hard and fast rule for how much to use or when to stop.
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