Table of contents:
Video: Cycle Of Nutrients And Soil Texture
Read the previous part. ← Soil structure: five basic layers
How does the soil live and why is it degrading. Part 2
You can quickly build a house, a bathhouse, a playground, a utility block, but it is impossible to make a garden, lawn, flower garden, greenhouse plants or vegetable garden grow quickly.
This requires good soil, and it will take a long and hard work to prepare it, cultivate it and curb degradation.
The secrets of soil preparation for each plot, greenhouse, vegetable, garden plot, lawn or flower garden are their own, they differ significantly from each other. We will consider the processes of domestication or degradation separately for each zone in the coming articles.
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There is no need to make beds for each vegetable, they do not need any beds, they do not require a border and fencing. This grower needs walkways.
Vegetables do not tolerate soil compaction in and around the garden bed, therefore, special paths do not need to be done, only temporary passes are needed, for example, in the form of paving slabs, which are rarely laid, boards, under which the soil itself will loosen with the help of earthworms. Curbs, fencing and other devices that are arranged as design elements can be made in the areas of the flower garden, lawn, since environmentally friendly food products are not grown there.
The theoretical basis for working on a vegetable plot is the cycle of nutrients in nature, which is embodied by compiling a balance of nutrients. With a negative balance, the loss of nutrients from the soil predominates, which leads to a decrease in fertility and soil degradation.
The expenditure part of the balance includes soil losses of nutrients in the process of plant nutrition, plus leaching of nutrients by rains, plus volatilization of elements into the atmosphere in a gaseous form, plus the absorption of elements by animals and soil microorganisms in the process of their vital activity, plus undesirable fixation of elements by chemically clay minerals and one and a half oxides. The sum of all losses is usually 60-70% or more of all reserves of nutrients in the soil for the season. If you do not return these losses to the soil, then it will lose its strength within 2-3 years.
The incoming part of the balance of elements usually consists of root and stubble residues of plants after harvesting, dead microorganisms, insects and other inhabitants of the soil, as well as elements coming from the atmosphere in a gaseous form and in the form of a solution with atmospheric precipitation. The amount of elements in the income part of the balance is small, about 30-40% of the amount of losses.
The balance turns out to be negative, the non-return of elements is 30-40%, the soil, as a result, loses its fertility and degrades. Biological processes die down, yields fall sharply, as a result, summer cottages cannot please the gardener, and often the soil is thrown, overgrown with weeds, swamped, the podzolic horizon grows, the arable layer disappears.
It is possible to revive such soil, but this will require twice as much time, effort and financial resources. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a positive balance of nutrients in the vegetable plot, for this it will be necessary to apply annually organic and mineral fertilizers in such volumes that allow for a positive balance of nutrients.
To do this, you need to annually bring in 5-8 kg of manure, 100 g of nitrophoska, 200 g of dolomite flour and 0.2 g of boric, copper, molybdenum, cobalt micronutrient fertilizers for each square meter of the vegetable plot. Only on fertilized soils, with a positive balance of nutrients, can one get environmentally friendly vegetable products.
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Nutrient balances are compiled for each element separately. The first and most important is the balance of organic matter in the soil. The content of humic substances in our soils is low and approximately equal to 2%. Organic matter comes to the soil as a result of the death of plants growing on it in the fall, but this is not enough to maintain a positive balance. In this case, the humus content will drop to 1% and below.
The physical properties of the soil will deteriorate sharply, the soil will be more difficult to cultivate, it will lose its structure, it will crumble poorly during cultivation, and become blocky. Organic fertilizers come to the rescue. They need to be applied at 5-8 kg / m 2 to maintain a positive humus balance.
The leading role of organic matter in agriculture and plant growing will increase even more due to the intensification of degradation processes in the soil cover, which are a consequence of the primitive management of summer cottage agriculture. But not only organic matter determines soil fertility. For him, indicators of the content of mineral nutrients are also important. And balances are calculated for them too. And without the introduction of mineral fertilizers, these balances turn out to be negative. Thus, for cultural vegetable growing, the combined application of organic and mineral fertilizers is a necessary and decisive condition.
In the life of society, soil is the property of the nation and the source of all wealth on earth. Soils intended for agricultural use MUST (!!!) be protected by law, they must be protected and their fertility increased. However, in the modern world, the opposite is happening. The concept of soil disappears and is replaced by the concept of a land plot, huge areas are withdrawn from agricultural use, measures to increase fertility are replaced by "CARE OF ECOLOGY". Growing high yields of plants and improving the quality of products is considered unnecessary, there is an unfair passion for "biological, organic, ecological or other fashionable" farming.
All the countries of Western Europe, as a result of intensive agriculture, the use of high doses of organic and mineral fertilizers (doses 5-8 times higher than ours) have reached the level of complete self-sufficiency of the countries with their food. They have not tried and are not trying now to upset the balance of nutrients, the law of scientific agriculture.
The mechanical composition of the soil and types of soils
A few words about the mechanical composition of the soil. It also needs balance. Soils differ greatly from each other in texture, i.e. in composition and particle size. Knowledge of the mechanical composition of the soil to a certain extent makes it possible to characterize the properties of the soil and its fertility.
According to the particle diameter (in mm), the following fractions are distinguished: stones - more than 3, gravel - 3-1, sand - 1-0.05, dust - 0.05-0.001, silt - 0.001-0.00001 and colloidal particles - less 0.0001 mm. If large stones and gravel predominate in the soil, then this soil is poorly cultivated, highly compacted, poorly fertile, it contains many toxic compounds, from such soil in summer there are strong losses of water and nitrogen in the process of unwanted denitrification of nitrogen.
The more silty and colloidal fractions in the soil, the more fertile it is, since these fractions accumulate the main nutrients necessary for plants due to the absorption of the colloidal fraction. Along with the marked names of particles, other generalized designations are also adopted. Particles larger than 0.01 mm are called physical sand, and particles smaller than 0.01 mm are called clayey. According to the content of clay particles, soils are divided into clay (containing up to 80% clay), loamy (30-40%), sandy loam (10-20%) and sandy (5-10% clay).
The best soils are loamy and sandy loam. Loamy soils, due to clay particles, have a large absorption surface and a high absorption capacity, that is, the ability to retain a lot of moisture and nutrients introduced with fertilizers. Clay soils are prone to waterlogging, and with an excess of moisture, the air regime is disturbed, and anaerobic processes will prevail in the soil, in which mineral substances are converted into forms inaccessible to a plant, and sometimes into toxic forms. The crop yield in these cases is of poor quality. Sandy soils, due to leaching, lose a lot of nutrients and need to be domesticated.
To improve the mechanical composition of the soil, such methods are used as sanding (applying 80-100 kg / m2 of sand), claying (100-150 kg / m2 of clay), sowing green manure crops, applying organic fertilizers, which significantly loosen the soil.
Directly on the vegetable plot, the mechanical composition of the soil is determined as follows. If a cord can be rolled out of moist soil and wrapped in a ring, then such soil is considered clayey; and if the cord can be rolled up, but it breaks when rolled into a ring, then the soil is called loamy; if the cord cannot be rolled up, but it is easy to roll the ball, then the soil is sandy loam; if the ball cannot be rolled up, as it crumbles, the soil is sandy.
Cycle of batteries
The mechanical composition of the soil significantly affects its fertility. Most often, the amount of nutrients decreases from heavy to light soils in texture. On light soils, nutrients are washed out faster with precipitation. But in sandy soils, the water-air regime is better (more oxygen), therefore, aerobic processes prevail in them, providing plants with available nutrients.
However, sandy soils are less absorbent, organic and mineral substances in them are quickly mineralized and easily washed out with precipitation, so the soils are depleted faster, and plants on them often starve and develop poorly. The care of such soils is very different from clay soils. Fertilizers are applied on them in smaller doses, but more often, so that the total amount of applied fertilizers is sufficient for optimal growth and development of plants.
Organic fertilizers on light soils mineralize faster than on heavy ones, so they need to be applied more often in spring. In addition, the effect of organic fertilizers on light soils is short-lived, only 2-3 years, while on clay soils - up to 6-8 years. Therefore, sandy soils require more frequent application of organic fertilizers.
Optimal agrochemical soil properties are its good handling, in which a soil air increases the oxygen content, but the negative effects of higher concentrations of CO 2 in the soil to plants does not occur.
Gardeners ask: is it possible to maintain a circulation and a positive balance by applying only organic (for example, in organic farming) or some mineral fertilizers? No, you can't, they should be used together, because they complement each other.
Organic fertilizers are used to replenish the reserves of soil organic matter, humus and supply energy to the soil biota. When solving the question: what and how to make? - first of all, you need to apply organic fertilizers. The humus formed from organic fertilizers helps to preserve nutrients in the soil, it absorbs and retains elements from mineral fertilizers.
But, on the other hand, manure has its drawbacks: it is an inferior fertilizer, because it is animal waste. The animals have already taken the necessary elements, it is low in phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and trace elements. Therefore, they need to be given with mineral fertilizers and thereby correct the deficiencies of manure and replenish reserves in the soil, because not enough mineral food is introduced with manure.
It is to maintain the cycle of nutrients that organic and mineral fertilizers must be used together.
Read the next part. Soil degradation →
Gennady Vasyaev, Associate Professor, Ch. specialist of the North-West Regional Scientific Center of the Russian Agricultural Academy
Olga Vasyaeva, amateur gardener
How the soil lives and why it degrades:
Part 1. The structure of the soil: five main layers
Part 2. The cycle of nutrients and the mechanical composition of the soil
Part 3. Soil degradation