Improve chemical properties of soil

Producers describe soil chemical properties in terms of soil fertility, salinity, and acidity or alkalinity (soil pH). Soil fertility can be subdivided into nutrient availability for plant uptake, the soil's nutrient-holding capacity, and the balances among plant-available nutrients. You can evaluate your soils for good chemical conditions by monitoring the following characteristics.

  • Soils have a near-neutral pH (unless the soil is used to grow acid-loving crops, such as blueberries or cranberries).
  • Sufficient nutrients are available for productive crop growth, but not in excess that causes plant toxicities or contaminates nearby streams or aquifers.
  • Soil nutrients are in forms available for plant uptake, but they are held suffi-ciendy enough not to be easily leached or carried away by runoff.

The availability of plant nutrients is sufficiently balanced to promote healthy plant growth and microbial activity. This objective recognizes that a plant is only as healthy as its most limiting nutrient allows.

  • Soils do not contain toxins or heavy metals in concentrations high enough to inhibit plant growth or the growth of beneficial soil organisms.
  • Soils contain enough moisture to facilitate nutrient movement to plant roots.
  • Soils contain sufficient oxygen for plant growth and the growth of soil organisms.
  • Soils contain relatively high levels of organic matter, which helps them hold water and nutrients.

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