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Video: Soil Quality Indicators And Their Control
To myself - a soil laboratory
The main indicators of soil quality are its biological activity, texture, acidity, particle size distribution, moisture capacity and ripeness. Unfortunately, in the popular literature, information about these indicators is either absent altogether, or is scattered across various sources so that you will not find the methods for determining them immediately.
To save summer residents and gardeners from such a search, the author tried to put them together so that they could be used already in the coming summer season to take measures to improve the quality of the soil.
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Soil biological activity
This indicator characterizes the vitality of the soil, the presence of humus and microorganisms in it, organic and nutrients for the crops grown. To determine the activity of the soil, you need to take several sheets of filter paper (like "blotting paper") and bury them in different parts of the site, and after about a month you need to see what happened to them. If the leaf is badly decayed, it means that the biological activity of the soil is high, and any special agricultural measures can be omitted.
If the paper collapsed only in some places, the soil activity is average. If the leaf remains intact, the soil on the site is hungry for organic fertilizers. And, in order not to be left without a crop, manure, compost or granular bioorganic fertilizers, which are available in abundance today, should be urgently added to it.
In some cases, it is useful to check the soil saturation with earthworms. Indeed, along the channels made by them, the roots of plants penetrate deep into the depths. For this purpose, the soil is removed with a shovel to a depth of 5 cm and the number of worm moves is counted on a site measuring 0.5x0.5 m, determining their total number per 1 m². If the soil has up to 400 strokes per 1 m², then it is rich. Moreover, if an increase in the number of moves is observed over time, this means that land use is being carried out correctly.
The mechanical composition of the soil
This is no less important indicator of soil quality than the previous one, and allows you to characterize, first of all, the type of soil and determine the agricultural practices that are required for growing certain crops. For this purpose, you need to take a handful of earth from the middle of the treated layer, add a little water to it, knead it well between your palms and try to roll a ball about 4 cm in diameter.
If the ball does not work, the soil is sandy. If the ball works out, then you need to try to roll it into a cord between your palms. If the cord does not work out, the soil is sandy loam. After that, you should roll the cord into a ring, and if it does not work out, the soil is light loamy, and if the ring breaks, the soil is heavy loamy. When the ringlet can be given any shape, the soil is clearly clayey.
If the soil is loamy or sandy loam, then the owner of the site is in luck, since it is these soils that most plants love. In the case when the soil is sandy or clayey, measures should be taken to improve them, known from the special literature: in the first case - clay, in the second - sanding with the simultaneous introduction of significant doses of organic fertilizers.
To determine the composition of the soil, you can use a more coarse method, called the sediment sample. To do this, take a little garden soil, pour it with water in a glass and stir it. At the same time, the water from the clay very quickly becomes dark and cloudy, the sand settles to the bottom, and humus (humus) floats up. It remains only to visually assess the proportion of various soil components and determine what needs to be added to improve its quality. If the humus in such a sample is less than 2-3%, then the soil needs humus, compost or other organic fertilizers.
It characterizes the concentration of hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the soil solution, expressed in pH of water and salt extracts from the soil. The acidity index of the soil pH at the site can be determined using litmus paper, sets of which are sold in stores and contain 20 strips, and they have a color scale and instructions for use. Moreover, in order to save strips, they can be cut in half and take up to 40 measurements.
However, it is quite possible to do without this set, for which it is enough to buy phenolphthalein (purgen) at the pharmacy, grind 10 tablets and stir the powder in half a glass of warm water. After that, they take white blotting paper, cut it into strips of 10x2 cm, dipped into the solution and dry. Further, at a depth of about 15 cm, a soil sample is taken, mixed with rainwater and compressed in a hand with an indicator.
If the paper turns bright red, the soil is alkaline, if it turns pink, it is close to neutral (pH = 6-7), and if it does not change color, it is acidic, requiring obligatory liming: on sandy and sandy loam soils at a dose of 150-450 g / m² and on loamy and clayey in a dose of 450-900 g / m². Very good results, judging from my own experience, are given by the use of stove or plant ash for soil deoxidation in approximately the same doses, but applied 2-3 times more often.
The acidity of the soil is also judged by some characteristics of the soil and plants. For example, a whitish (ash-like) layer of soil lying at a shallow depth from the surface is a sign of acidic soil. On acidic soils, sorrel and horsetail usually grow, on less acidic soils, clover.
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Granulometric composition of soil
This indicator gives an idea of the degree of particle size of the soil. For this, a soil sample weighing at least 100 g, taken at a depth of 10-15 cm, is passed through a sieve with cells of 0.5 mm and 1.0 mm. After separating the sample, weighing all three fractions: less than 0.5 mm, 0.5-1.0 mm and more than 1.0 mm. The best in terms of porosity, moisture and air capacity is considered to be a soil that contains up to 80% of fractions of 0.5-1.0 mm, fractions less than 0.5 mm - about 15% and fractions more than 1.0 mm - about 5% … Soil, the size indicators of which are smaller in the 0.5-1.0 mm fraction, and larger in the 1.0 mm fraction, are subject to additional loosening using multi-shank rippers or a rake with metal teeth.
This indicator characterizes the ability of the soil to absorb and retain a certain amount of moisture. To determine this indicator, take a handful of earth and roll it into a ball. If the lump does not work, that is, the soil crumbles, then its moisture capacity is no more than 25%. If the lump rolls down, but crumbles when falling, the moisture capacity is about 30-50%, it does not crumble - 50-75%.
The best moisture capacity, equal to 75-90%, is observed when the soil not only rolls well and falls apart, but also attaches new soils to itself. In my garden, I also use a rougher method of determining this indicator - with the help of my index finger. If it enters the soil easily, the soil is sufficiently water-absorbing, loose and breathable; if it does not enter, the soil is excessively dry, in need of urgent watering.
Ripeness of the soil
It characterizes the greatest readiness of the soil for processing, sowing seeds and planting seedlings in it. For this, a handful of earth is taken from a hole 10-15 cm deep, squeezed into a lump and lowered from a height of 1.2-1.5 m. If the lump does not collapse at the same time, the soil is not ready for processing, and if it falls apart evenly, it is high time to start processing. Ripe soil does not stick to working tools, it crumbles well, but does not get dusty.
As practice shows, such a determination of soil quality according to the 6 indicated indicators allows, without resorting to the services of paid centers, to quickly navigate and quickly take measures to bring the soil to the most favorable state for plants, and therefore significantly affect the yield of crops grown.