Some areas in a country naturally have good garden soil for growing plants. Others lack necessary nutrients that are needed for healthy plant growth. This is natural difference that can be corrected. For small area, the texture of soil can be altered by changing the percentage of clay, silt and sand in the composition of the loam. But for large scale farming, this is hard to do. To be fertile, the soil should have sufficient amount of nutrients. With nutrient deficiency, soil must be treated with the NPK fertilizer.
Your fertilizers can be the commercial or the organic types. The former is nasty kind as it contains chemicals that are harmful to men. Today, many gardeners treat their soil with organic matters such as compost and manure.
Nutrients that must be present in garden soil
Three basic elements should be present in the garden soil. These are nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, also known as the NPK mineral fertilizer. Other necessary nutrients that must be present in the soil are calcium, magnesium and sulfur. These mineral nutrients are needed in large quantity and they are categorized as macronutrients of the soil. The nutrients that are needed in smaller quantities are known as micronutrients. There are eight micronutrients that must also be present in your garden soil. These are manganese, iron, zinc, copper, boron, chlorine, molybdenum and nickel. These are also called trace elements.
There are other elements that are known as photosynthesis nutrients because they are necessary when plants undergo their food processing. These elements are oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. All these are essential nutrients and if one of these is lacking, the plants cannot grow too well.
Causes for lost of soil nutrients
The soil has the tendency to lose some of its nutrients. The soil gets depleted through overuse. The soil is not rested after harvest season causing the earth to decline in production. You will notice that after planting season, your harvest tend to decline. The soil has no more nutrients to sustain the growth of the plants.
In addition, there are crops that are heavy nutrient users. They consume more nutrients to deplete the soil faster. Examples of heavy soil nutrient users are corn, rice, sorghum and sweet potatoes. If there are heavy users, there are also plants that can be considered nutrient boasters. These crops contribute to availability of nutrients that are used by other plants.
Ways to replenish soil nutrients
There are effective ways to replenish the garden soil with the lacking nutrients.
• Bio-intensive gardening – This increases soil fertility when wastes and other garden grass cuttings are buried in the soil after harvesting the crops. These materials are left to decompose through microorganisms in the soil.
• Composting – Organic waste materials like garbage, crop and animal manure are left on the surface of the ground to decompose with the aid of soil microbes and bacteria. Garbage dumpsites had initiated composting methods and the resulting organic matters are sold and used in garden soil.
• Crop rotation – This method rotates the kinds of plants or crops planted in an area. Crops that deplete nutrients are alternated to boaster crops. After harvesting the crops, another kind of crops are planted on the same site.
• Cover cropping – This is also called living mulch. Other kinds of plants are planted in between regular main crops; these are the living mulch. This method does not only replenish garden soil nutrients; they also improve soil by controlling the growth of weeds and soil erosion. This will also help maintain the presence of organic elements in the soil.
Nutrients in garden soil can be depleted. When this happens, you cannot expect a healthy growth of the crops. However, there are ways to replenish the nutrients in the soil and eventually make the plants grow well for a good harvest.