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Video: Soil Care: Feed The Soil, Not The Plants
Read the previous part. ← Soil care: liquid phase or soil solution
The basic law of agriculture is not fulfilled - the technologies of cultivation of agricultural crops are not followed. Gardeners and vegetable growers want to grow good crops, but do not know how to do it, how to manage the nutrient cycle in their summer cottage. This is the second, most gross mistake of our amateurs of farmers.
The error occurs for many reasons. This is ignorance of the basic laws of agriculture, and the pursuit of "ecological farming", and an unfair dislike of fertilizers, this is a kind of laziness, unwillingness to "overwork" oneself
In a relatively closed system soil-plants-fertilizers-atmosphere-soil, there is a balance cycle of nutrients needed by plants. The soil in this cycle plays the role of a banker - it loses nutrients and, under certain conditions, accumulates them. Therefore, it is very important that this cycle of elements is positive, the reserves of nutrients in the soil should not be depleted, but constantly replenished.
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Many do not know how to estimate the size of the cycle in their summer cottage, what is the balance of the nutrients on it - negative or positive. It's easy enough to find out, though. It is only necessary to collect the biological crop and weigh it. Then divide the weight of the harvested crop by the area where it was grown, and you will receive indicators of the average yield of biological mass per square meter of area.
This can be potatoes, vegetables, green manure crops, lawn grass or other weeds. If the total biological mass (roots, aerial part of plants, food part of the crop) is less than 4-5 kg, then the turnover of nutrients in the area and their balance are negative. This means that in this area too few elements are returned to the soil and little fertilizer is applied to replenish the balance.
With a positive balance of nutrients on the site, the food yield of plants should be high. For example, the yield of potato tubers should be more than 4-5 kg, cabbage - more than 6-8 kg, root crops - more than 4-5 kg per square meter. In this case, fertilizers should be applied at the average dose given just above in the text. It is only possible to ensure a positive balance of nutrients in the summer cottage and guarantee good harvests every year if the income items of the balance are accurately fulfilled.
The third mistake of gardeners and vegetable growers is misconceptions about the absorption of nutrients and water by plants.
You can often hear phrases that it is necessary to "feed the plants", it is necessary to "water the plants." Conventionally, in everyday life you can express yourself this way, but you literally cannot understand and do so. However, many people think that the plants really need to be fed and watered. In fact, it is not! It is impossible to feed and water the plants with fertilizers and water.
They have no specific organ to absorb food and water. They absorb carbon dioxide through the leaves, and mineral nutrients and water through the roots. Therefore, fertilizer and water must be applied to the soil. And then the corresponding reactions and transformations will take place between the soil and the fertilizer. And only after that the process of absorption of nutrients and water by the roots will begin. Plants are fed based on metabolic uptake, not absorption.
Gardeners and vegetable growers must ensure good soil fertility; it is the soil that must be fed and watered. It is necessary to focus on caring for it, on the application of fertilizers, on compliance with agrotechnical requirements, that is, use water and fertilizers for their intended purpose.
The fourth mistake
Gardeners don't know how to use fertilizers. They don't know what they are made for and what they are for.
It must be clearly remembered that plants do not feed on fertilizers. Fertilizers are produced in order to fertilize the soil and increase its fertility. There are no special fertilizers that plants feed on. Fertilizers and nutrients are not the same thing. Fertilizers contain nutrients that must be applied to the soil, dissolved in the soil solution and absorbed by the soil-absorbing complex.
Fertilize the soil, not the plants! … Gardeners and vegetable growers, cultivating plants, for some reason forget about this. Only the soil needs fertilization. Plants do not need food or fertilizers, the soil needs them, since only moist and fertilized fertile soil provides plants with water and nutrients well.
Fertilizers are processed by the soil, the soil, as it were, "digests" them, like animals their food, and prepares nutrients for plant nutrition. You cannot "feed" the plants with fertilizers, they do not absorb them, the plants take nutrients from the soil - nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and other elements - in ionic form, for example, in the form of NH
4 +, NO
3 -, H
4-, K +, Ca ++, Mg ++ by equivalent exchange for the corresponding cations or anions secreted by plant roots (H +, OH- and others). But we will talk about this in detail in the following articles, but for now you need to remember that plants need nutrients in ionic form, which are stored in the soil in the absorbed state by the soil-absorbing complex.
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Gardeners and vegetable growers are too addicted to plant feeding - this is the fifth mistake. They "feed" the plants with anything at all - and organic fertilizers, although the plants do not feed on organic matter at all, and growth stimulants, although they are not fertilizers either, and the most fashionable drugs, which also, perhaps, are not fertilizers. With such uncontrolled feeding, there is no guarantee that vegetable products will not be toxic. This can be guaranteed only after agrochemical analyzes of plant products.
Science has developed three methods of fertilization - the main (pre-sowing), pre-sowing and top dressing (post-sowing). The first two methods are mandatory for use, they fully satisfy the need for plants in nutrients. Top dressing is only an additional technique and is used only in extreme cases. For example, when, due to technical reasons, due to heavy rainfall, nutrients and fertilizers are washed out of the soil, or when the soil is geologically poor in macro- and microelements, and the plants show signs of starvation.
In all other cases, feeding is not carried out. Top dressing, if needed, is most often nitrogen-potassium dressing. But they are also carried out with inter-row cultivation through the soil. In other cases, it is not at all necessary to feed the plants. You always need to fertilize the soil, prepare fertile soil, then no additional fertilizing is needed.
The basic rule is to apply fertilizer before sowing and during sowing or planting of plants, that is, use fertilizer as the main pre-sowing fertilizer. The term of introduction is spring, the method of embedding is plowing, and also apply them when sowing or planting plants in rows and holes to satisfy the need of young plant seedlings in phosphorus. It is not necessary to "feed" the plants randomly; on fertile soils, you can forget about feeding.
Gardeners and vegetable growers do not do agrochemical soil analyzes - the sixth mistake. It is necessary to have an agrochemical analysis of the soil, it makes it possible to know everything about soil fertility, correctly and reasonably manage soil fertility and intelligently take measures to improve soil fertility. Agrochemical analyzes allow to carry out all agrotechnical work on the soil in accordance with the scientific rules and laws of soil science and agrochemistry.
Almost all gardeners and vegetable growers do not have agrochemical data on the fertility of their soil, the parameters and levels of fertility are unknown to them, all work with the soil is carried out blindly.
The rule is that you need to do a complete agrochemical analysis of the soil at least once every three to five years and get the opinion and recommendations of a specialist agrochemist on working with soil, fertilizers and plant protection products.
Read the next part. Soil care: errors of agricultural technology →
Gennady Vasyaev, associate professor,
chief specialist of the
North-West regional scientific center of the Russian Agricultural Academy
Olga Vasyaeva, amateur gardener