Be it agricultural practices or building tall buildings, the soil has a major role to play in all. It makes this natural resource super important. When it comes to agriculture, nearly 60% of crop yields are a result of the fertility of the soil. It is for this reason you need to manage the soil in your garden carefully. Now, for doing so, the most important thing is soil testing.
As the old saying goes, “Don’t guess, soil test,” you should never guess about what your soil needs for improvement. Instead, get it tested, and find out exactly what nutrients it requires and what it does not. In this post, we will be talking about the same. Let us find out about the best Soil Test Recommendations and Soil Mineral Prescriptions to maintain healthy garden soil.
What Is Soil Testing?
Soil testing is a process using which you can determine different characteristics of a soil sample. These characteristics range from the nutrient content of the soil and its composition to the pH levels of the soil and its acidity. So, irrespective of whether you want to test your soil for elements like calcium, magnesium, and sodium or test soil pH, soil testing can be a great solution for you.
This testing is an essential diagnostic tool for farm and garden owners, especially for those who wish to carry out organic gardening and farming. Further, this is even more important due to the inflation in the crop and fertilizer process. While you may think that soil testing is pricey, fertilizer prices have become twofold to fourfold their value over time.
So, while soil testing may cost you something, it may still help you save a lot. With it, you only need to invest in fertilizers that your soil needs. Further, once you manage to balance your soil minerals with their help, you will be benefited from a healthy crop yield. You can easily use a soil testing kit to test your soil at home.
Alternatively, you can get it tested by professionals. This can be done both in the field and in a laboratory. Usually, the testing of soil involves a few simple steps like the collection of sample soil, separating litter from it, and then testing the soil for soil minerals, trace elements, moisture content, or whatever you need to know.
What Are Some Soil Test Recommendations?
When it comes to soil analysis, it can be done in many ways. In this section, we will give you a brief idea of these along with the objectives of soil testing. First, let us talk about different methods for soil testing. Some of them include:
- Moisture content test
- Atterberg limits tests
- The specific gravity of soil
- Mehlich 3 soil testDry density of soil
- Compaction/Proctor’s test
If you are wondering “Where do I send the soil sample,” for these tests, you can readily look for laboratories that do so near you. Now, let us discuss the objectives of this soil testing. They are as follows:
- Soil testing can help you evaluate the fertility of your soil. With it, you can also evaluate the nutrient status of soil along with the determination of soil acidity, salinity and alkalinity problems.
- With your soil test results, you can get recommendations on the amount of fertilizer or manure you need to use. For it, you also need to consider your crop.
- Soil tests also prevent the excessive use of fertilizers, and thereby play a role in environmental safety.
- Further, it can also help with finding which crop is a better fit for your soil kind.
- For crop productivity, profitability, and sustainability, a soil test will also help you restore soil fertility.
What Are Some Soil Testing Benefits for Farmers?
As stated earlier, soil testing is never an additional cost for farmers. Instead, it is something that can help them save a lot in terms of fertilizer use and crop management. Thus, soil testing has several benefits for farmers. Here is what farmers can do to achieve the best yield if they get their soil tested before the harvest season. Have a look:
- They will provide only necessary nutrients to their crops, and thereby improve crop yield and profit.
- With a soil test, farmers can know how to increase the consistency of nutrient availability across their garden or field.
- Doing the above will result in better and uniform crop growth.
- It also simplifies processes like cultivation and spraying.
- Also, by getting their soil tested, farmers can nourish the plants so that they can be stronger against weeds.
- Along with uniform crop growth, soil testing also ensures more uniform plant maturity.
- With its help, they can go for timely harvesting and prevent drying of plants, thereby improving the market quality of products and gaining profits.
What Are Some Soil Mineral Prescriptions You Can Use After Getting Your Soil Tested?
The level of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) in soil should be 50, 5, and 180 parts per million (ppm), respectively. Once you get about this, you can find if your soil has the same. If not, or in case of other deficiencies, there are various Soil Mineral Prescriptions that you can use. Some of them are given below:
The first soil mineral prescription that you can use for your soil is Humate Ore. It is the best option to provide the best options for the biological activity and chemical reactions in plants. Along with this, it can also be useful in improving the fertilizer efficiency in the soil. You, therefore, need not fertilize your soil very frequently after it.
This is the next soil mineral prescription you can use. It is rich in glauconite, is found in the late-Cretaceous deposits of New Jersey, and is fossil-rich and low in sedimentary input. This can be used for iron, potassium, and magnesium deficiencies in plants.
Some other functions of Greensand include improving moisture retention in soil and loosening it. It can further promote root growth and also soften hard water. To use it, you need to know that it is non-soluble in water, and needs to be used around the plants by mixing with soil. Generally, you can mix 480 ml of it in the soil.
Granulated Feather Meal
This soil prescription is a natural organic fertilizer. Its formation is simple. For it, feathers are treated with high heat. Then, these are grounded, and you get a feather meal as the final product. If your garden needs consistent levels of nitrogen, this is the best for it. This is due to a structural protein – Keratin.
This fertilizer is rich in it, and thus, high in nitrogen (N). The element is one of the most crucial mineral elements that plants need to grow well and healthily. Along with providing enough nitrogen to plants, granulated feather meal also improves soil structure and green leaf growth. It is also useful for compost decomposition and should be used once every month (during the growing season only).
Natural Potassium Sulfate
This next soil prescription is a great source of potassium for organic gardens. So, if your soil has a potassium deficiency, you can surely go for it. Another thing you must know about this potassium sulfate fertilizer is that it provides potassium to the soil in a stable form that has a neutral pH. Thus, it eliminates drawbacks like the killing of important microorganisms and the leaching of nutrients.
Further, this kind of soil prescription also works in saline conditions. This can be seen in a recent study about the wheat crop. As per the report, Natural Potassium Sulfate in the case of wheat growing in a saline environment can increase its maximum biomass. It is also useful for the uptake of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and other soil minerals and trace elements.
Tennessee Rock Phosphate
The last soil prescription that we have for today is Tennessee Phosphorite or Tennessee Rock Phosphate. As the name suggests, this one has high amounts of phosphorus and can be readily used to balance the deficiency of potassium, thereby achieving the perfect NPK ratio. This soil prescription is also among the best organic fertilizers for organic gardeners.
With the phosphorus that is received from Tennessee Phosphorite, the accessibility of other nutrients to the plants becomes manifold. Along with keeping the plant healthy and ensuring a great yield, this mineral also helps in the process of photosynthesis and various other plant metabolic pathways and functions.
So, these are the best soil test recommendations and soil mineral prescriptions to maintain healthy garden soil. To know about the right soil mineral prescriptions for your garden, always remember that a soil test is crucial. You can even hire a professional and expert soil testing service provider for the same. Alternatively, you can also use a soil testing kit at home. Whatever you decide to do, make sure to use this analysis wisely, and you will surely be able to achieve a garden that is healthy and in full bloom. Happy gardening!