The Roles of Soil Amendments in Organic Farming



How do you know that your soil needs amendment? Most importantly, how do you know what kind of amendments your soil needs? Adding organic matter to your soil is the best way to improve any kind of soil—sandy and clay-like. Soil amendments work in different ways, depending on the type of soil you have in your land. The best soil is one with the right balance. Here, crops in organic farming can grow better, fuller, and more nutrient-packed.

For Sandy Soils

When soil is too sandy, it creates air pockets which allow fertilizers, water, and other nutrients to just pass through the soil. The plants cannot absorb these nutrients because it drains into the soil. Adding organic matter into sandy soil will improve its water-retention properties. It will also be able to hold more nutrients; just enough for the plants to absorb them for growth. You will notice that your soil is sandy if it cracks and dries in the summer. The soil is sand-like and crumbles as you touch it.

For Clay Soil

Clay soil is characterized by moisture. If the soil feels wet to touch, that’s clay soil. Water does not escape this kind of soil. The moisture just stays, making the soil sticky to the touch. When this happens, it sticks to everything—the shovel, your hands, the roots of the plants, etc. Why is sticking such a bad thing for plants? Because eventually, the soil will dry up. That clay-like muddy soil will harden.

It will wrap itself around the roots of the plants, so much so that the plants will have a hard time “breathing.” It will also kill off the needed pathways to get more nutrients from the soil amendments and organic fertilizers being used in the soil. How do you know your soil is clay-like? Is it wet to touch? Does it stick to your fingers when you touch it? If yes, it’s probably a clayey soil and you should find ways to amend it so that it improves aeration.

Great Organic Amendments

Composted materials that have been reduced to a humus-like consistency are great amendments to the soil. Cattle and horse manure can also be used as organic amendments, though you have to be careful about its high-carbon organic matter during the breakdown process. To hasten the process, you can add nitrogen into your garden. Peat moss and inorganic amendments such as perlite, sand, and vermiculite are also great soil amendments for those thinking of organic farming.

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