A Guide To Compost, Manure, Humus, Organic Matter and their Relation to Trace Elements and Soil Minerals

Healthy gardens are a delight to watch. While you may think that success in gardening is not that simple, it is easier than you can ever imagine. All you need to do is maintain healthy soil. If you are wondering how to do so, it requires more than just good access to sunlight, regular watering, and trimming of your plants as needed.

For the best soil health that can improve your garden’s yield, you need to ensure that you provide it with all the essential Trace elements and soil minerals it needs. While you can readily find organic and inorganic fertilizers of this in the market, it is always a good idea to also use naturally occurring fertilizers like Compost, Manure, Humus, and Organic Matter.

In this post, we will be discussing everything about them, and their relation to trace elements and soil minerals. Let us get started.

What Are Trace Elements and Soil Minerals?

Before we move on to find out how Manure, Humus, Organic Matter, Compost, and Minerals or Trace elements are related to each other, do you know what the latter is? If not, we are here to help. As you may know that the topmost layer of the earth’s crust – soil, is a mixture of various components. The major component among these is soil minerals – major minerals and trace elements.

Let us quickly introduce you to them. First, we will be talking about the major nutrients needed by plants. These typically include the following:

  • Nitrogen (N): It is needed for green leaves, photosynthesis, and the overall development and growth of plants.
  • Phosphorous (P): It is needed for the development of strong roots, flowering, seed production, and fruit ripening.
  • Potassium (K): It is needed to keep plants away from diseases and damage from hot and cold weather, and for the uptake of other major soil minerals and trace elements.
  • Calcium (Ca): It is needed by plants to develop strong cell walls, and for their overall health.
  • Magnesium (Mg): It is needed for photosynthesis, regulation of other soil minerals and trace elements, and seed formation.

Sulfur (S): It is needed for photosynthesis, chlorophyll formation, and overall plant growth.


Now, let us move on to Trace elements. These are those soil minerals that are present and needed in minute amounts by plants but are of great importance. For this reason, they are also known as micronutrients. The trace minerals list is as follows:

  • Chlorine (CI): It is needed for disease resistance and tolerance as well as osmotic and stomatal regulation.
  • Iron (Fe): It is needed for the green color of leaves, chlorophyll synthesis, and photosynthesis.
  • Manganese (Mn): It is needed to aid metabolic roles in different plant cell compartments, and for the growth and development of plants.
  • Zinc (Zn): It is needed by enzymes that start various metabolic reactions in plant cells and for seed production.
  • Copper (Cu): It is needed to aid various enzymatic activities in plants, chlorophyll synthesis, and seed production.
  • Molybdenum (Mo): It is needed for the fixation of nitrogen in legumes and to aid nitrogen utilization in other plants.
  • Boron (B): It is needed for the uptake of nutrients and cellular growth in plants.


Why Does Your Garden Need a Soil Test?


Trace elements and soil minerals

Now that you know your answer to “what are trace minerals,” let us move on to the next section of the post–soil testing. Does the statement “Why Does My Garden Need a Soil Test,” ever cross your mind? If yes, we have an answer to it. When it comes to your garden and its soil, nutrients serve as food to it.

Just like humans need to have a balanced meal, it is the same with the garden. Depending on the fertility of the soil in your garden, and the type of plants that you grow there, it will need some nutrients and some not. You cannot just dump it with any fertilizer as even the excess of vital soil minerals and trace elements can be toxic to your plants.

In such a case, the best solution is to get your garden soil tested. It might seem like an extra cost to you. However, it is not. In fact, if anything, it will help you save a lot by helping your garden have the best yield. With a periodic soil test done timely, you can even find out about any deficiencies before they develop. Further, it also gives you details like soil acidity and the percentage of organic matter.

Compost and Its Relation to Trace elements and Soil Minerals

After what are trace elements, and why do you need to get your soil tested for them, let us move on to the organic and natural fertilizer you can provide to your soil. We will begin with compost and also know about its relation to trace elements and soil minerals. Let us first begin with finding out what compost actually is.

For those who are not aware of the term, it is what you get after decomposing plant waste, food waste, and other organic materials. This nutrient-rich end product is a dirt-like material and can be used to nourish and improve soil health. As for the relation of compost to soil minerals and trace elements, it has a full spectrum of plant nutrients depending on the variety of compost ingredients.

For instance, if you have a well-rotted compost sample with you, it is sure to be rich in Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. These are the three major nutrients that most plants need. Along with these, it also has other micronutrients and trace minerals. Some of them include Sulfur, Carbon, Boron, Copper, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Iodine, and Zinc.

Along with providing the soil with all these amazing nutrients, the use of compost in your garden can also help improve soil texture and regulate moisture. Not only this, but it also aids various microbes to transfer nutrients to plant roots, thereby, making nutrients easily accessible to plants. So, compost is nature’s ultimate organic fertilizer that you must provide to your garden.


Manure and Its Relation to Trace elements and Soil Minerals

Next, we will discuss the relationship between trace elements, soil Minerals, and Manure. However, before that, let us tell you what manure is. For those who are not aware, this is nothing but a decomposed form of dead plants and animals and/or human and animal excreta. It is a natural and cost-effective form of fertilizer that is rich in nutrients needed for plant growth and development, including trace elements.

When it comes to the NPK ratio in this decomposed product, it has nearly:

  • 70-80% of nitrogen (N),
  • 60-85% of phosphorus (P), and
  • 80-90% of potassium (K).

Further, it also has organic carbon which is a great nutrient to maintain soil health. As plants do differentiate between nutrient sources, you can readily replace various fertilizers with manure.


Humus and Its Relation to Trace elements and Soil Minerals

Humus is the next organic material that we will discuss in terms of its relation with soil minerals and trace nutrients. For those who are not aware, humus is what you get in the soil after the decomposition of plant and animal matter. This dark and organic material has a simple formation process. When twigs, leaves, or any other plant materials fall on the ground and pile up, they form leaf litter.

Further, when the organisms in the soil or any other animal die, they are added to this. Then, as time passes away, all of this decomposes to form a thick brown or black substance. This is nothing but humus. Once this forms, the earthworms in the soil help mix it with the other minerals. This naturally occurring fertilizer has various nutrients in it.

The most important of them is Nitrogen which is the most-needed nutrient when it comes to plants. Now, earlier, we discussed compost which is also a decomposed product. So, what is the difference between the two? It is simple! Compost is usually created by people while humus forms naturally.


Organic Matter and Its Relation to Trace elements and Soil Minerals

Now, let us talk about organic matter and its relation to Soil Minerals and Trace elements. Before that, you should know that soil organic matter is anything that is produced by living organisms, and then returned to the soil after decomposition. So, to sum it up, compost, manure, and humus are all organic matter.

As stated in the earlier sections, this is rich in a variety of essential soil minerals and trace elements. Typically, most of the soil’s organic matter originates from plants (humus). Also, it has 60-90% of moisture, and the rest of dry matter has essential nutrients that consist of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. It may also have some amount of sulfur, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.


Final Thoughts

So, this is all you need to know about Compost, Manure, Humus, Organic Matter, and their relation to Trace elements and soil minerals. These are almost all nutrients needed by plants to grow and develop. How you use them and other fertilizers available in the market should depend on the quality of your soil, and the plants you decide to grow on it. Therefore, always make it a point to get your garden soil tested from time to time.