Category: Soil

Soil Compaction II: Effects, Prevention and Control

Earth cross section

In the previous article about soil compaction we discussed briefly the causes of soil compaction, the different levels and various ways of detecting a compacted soil. In this article we will discuss the effects of compaction as well as methods of prevention and control. Effects of soil compaction • Soil structure: Soil is made up of sand, silt, clay and organic material. The way in which these particles are arranged […]

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Soil Compaction I: An Introduction

Soil Compaction I: An Introduction

Soil compaction occurs when the amount of open spaces between soil particles (referred to as porosity) is reduced, and soils become denser, physically hard, and more difficult to permeate.(1) Soil compaction can be induced by a natural cause (as with the case of heavy impact of rain drops) or by anthropogenic causes including; excessive machinery use, intensive cropping, short crop rotations, intensive grazing and poor soil management.(2,3) A compacted soil […]

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How To Know When Your Soil Needs Nitrogen

green winter wheat growing

Nitrogen deposited in the soil may undergo mineralization; this is the conversion of organic nitrogen to inorganic plant available forms (nitrate (NO3-) and ammonium (NH4+)).1 Nitrate is a highly mobile nutrient in the soil. It is negatively charged and so cannot be held on to by negatively charged soil (clay and silt) particles. This is why it is vulnerable to being leached down the soil profile. Nitrogen is a necessity […]

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The Soil Profile

Soil

The soil profile can tell a lot about a soils fertility status. For example, a very fertile soil will have a dark-coloured surface layer owing to its rich organic matter content. By looking at the soil colours at different layers of a soil profile, scientist can characterize a soil by its age, formation process and mineral composition (know more about soil colour). The soil profile is the vertical cross section […]

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The Soils Cation Exchange Capacity and its Effect on Soil Fertility

Carrying out a soil analysis

Cation exchange capacity. Soil nutrients exist as positively charged or negatively charged ions when dissolved. The positively charged ions are known as cations and the negatively charged ions are known as anions. The nutrients which exist as cations are calcium (Ca2+), Magnesium Mg2+, ammonium (NH4+), potassium (K+), hydrogen (H+), sodium (Na+) aluminium (Al3+), iron (Fe2+), manganese (Mn2+), zinc (Zn2+) and copper (Cu2+). Some of the nutrients which exist as anions […]

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Peat Soils

Peat Soils feat

Peat soils are formed from partially decomposed plant material under anaerobic water saturated conditions. They are found in peatlands (also called bogs or mires). Peatlands cover about 3% of the earth’s land mass; they are found in the temperate (Northern Europe and America) and tropical regions (South East Asia, South America, South Africa and the Caribbean) 1. Peat soils are classified as histosols. These are soils high in organic matter […]

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How Do You Restore Degraded Soil?

Sprout growing out of concrete

A degraded soil typically loses its ability to supply food and habitation to living organisms, in its surrounding. When this happens, effort is made to restore the soil back to its natural state. Characteristics of a degraded soil include: high salinity, decline in fertility, decline in organic matter (leading to decline in soil structure), soil erodibility, increase in alkalinity and acidity. Soil degradation can be caused by man: for example, […]

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Soil

green soil

What is soil? There is more than one definition for soil the most common is that soil is a natural medium on which plants grow. A more broader definition is one by Gerard (2001) “ soil is a natural body composed of minerals, organic compounds, living organisms, air and water in interactive combinations produced by physical, chemical and biological processes” The soil around us can be so easily overlooked and […]

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Comparative look at Organic and Conventional Farming

Comparative look at Organic and Conventional Farming

Organic farming has in the recent past gained popularity. Farmers are willing to take up the risks associated with this venture and commit themselves to stringent measures required to attain organic farming certification. Consequently, with the growing interest in this form of organic, there is a rise in criticism of the same measure by those who have kept on opposing organic farming. Conventional farming standards, that are heavily seen to […]

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Soil Formation

Colourful

Soil is formed through the process of rock weathering. Weathering is the breakdown of rocks into smaller particles when in contact with water (flowing through rocks), air or living organisms. Weathering can occur physically, biologically or chemically. Physical weathering: This is the disintegration of rocks into smaller particles with no alteration in their molecular structure. Air and water are agents of physical weathering. Windblown on rocks, heavy downpour of rain, […]

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Addressing Nitrogen Deficiency in Organic Crop Production

planting potatoes

In the last few articles that we have recently been publishing, a key issue has over and over crept up. This is the issue of the challenges that organic crop production faces. These challenges as outlined by a recent study were found to be the lack of nitrogen as a nutrient and the other one was seen as the lack of proper mechanism towards tackling pests and weeds. Organic food […]

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The Problem with Growing Tomatoes Where I Live

Homegrown Cherry Tomatoes (Courtesy of  OakleyOriginals)

Somewhere in this country people are doing it well, and truth be known, I now work at a conscientious, mindful organic farm (organizing volunteers and a farmers’ market) with vast biodiversity, animals and plants, that manages to pull enough crop to keep me in organic tomatoes. However, despite what appears to the contrary, what seemed illogical to me not so long ago, in a climate that never gets too cold […]

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