Are you wanting to improve your soil structure? Or perhaps you’re curious to know more about ways to amend your soil so that your farm produce will increase in quantity and quality?
This is where soil conditioners come in handy. Soil conditioners are soil amendments that improve the overall soil structure when added to the soil.
They boost the penetration of air and nutrients into the soil. Soil conditioners increase the soil’s ability to hold water and relaxes the compressed hardpan. Soil conditioners can also increase or reduce pH levels. They ensure that nutrients are well spread out on the soil.
Simply, soil conditioners are useful to improve poor soils or to rebuild soils damaged due to bad soil management.
The term “poor soils” denotes several conditions. For example, if the soil has excessive clay, has much sand, or has a high component of salt or chalk, it will be regarded as poor soil. Poor soils also include soils that have no sufficient amount of nutrients for the survival of plants.
If your soil is having any one or more of these issues, you can simply make use of soil conditions to correct the situation. This will help you have better soil and grow better plants.
In many instances, your soil may be poor, and this is detrimental to the health and growth of your plants. So, if you want to grow healthy and quality plants, you’ll mostly need to add soil conditioners to your soil.
The commonest and most important thing that soil conditioner do is that it boosts the overall soil structure of your soil. Soil compaction affects the plants’ ability to properly take in nutrients and water. So, soil conditioners help to loosen up the soil and are also useful to increase the soil nutrients.
Another thing soil conditioner does is that it increases the soil’s cation exchange capacity. It also helps in improving the soil’s capacity to conserve water, especially in soils like sandy soils.
However, it doesn’t alter the soil texture, which refers to the amount of sand, silt, and clay in the soil.
There are two forms of soil conditioners you can use, which are: organic and inorganic soil conditioners.
The organic conditioners are carbon-based and examples include:
Among other uses, this helps to enhance the soil’s structure and stabilizes the pH levels of the soil.
This is an important form of fertilizer for the soil, though controversies surround its usage.
Animal manure helps to give nutrients to the soil and enhance its fertility.
Ever heard of ‘peat moss’? It is more suitable for acid-loving plants like blueberries. For alkaline loving plants, compost is a better alternative. Peat moss helps your soil to be more porous and more able to retain water.
It is very useful for mulching and it’s more lasting than other organic mulches.
It supplies plants with nitrogen, which is a nutrient essential for crop production. However, it is costly and may subside the moisture effects of the soil, depending on circumstances.
On the other hand, examples of inorganic soil conditioners are:
This adds calcium and magnesium to the soil. It also increases your soil’s pH.
This increases the sulfur and calcium content of the soil. It improves the exchange of water and air in clay soils and soils containing massive sodium
If you care to increase the potassium and magnesium level of your soil, you can consider glauconite. Yes, you can also use it to adjust the soil’s pH.
It’s useful in potting mixes. If you also care to make your soil more porous and more able to retain water, this conditioner is very effective.
You can use them to control erosion, increase the penetration of water and stabilize soil aggregate. Polyacrylamides also prevent soil crusting and speedifies the drying of the soil after getting wet so that activities can begin sooner on the soil.
To effectively maximise a soil conditioner when using it, you should take note of the following:
Although both soil conditioner and fertilizer are used to ensure the proper growth of plants, they’re however different.
Soil conditioner does not only give nutrients to plants but also helps to keep the soil structure in proper shape. It enables plants to maximise the usage of available nutrients.
Conversely, fertilizers only give the plants nutrients, and nothing more. Synthetic fertilizers, especially, are concerned with providing nutrients to plants. However, fertilizers made from organic products can also have some effects on the soil structure.
As emphasized, soil conditioners are the go-to if you want to grow healthy plants and get better soil. However, there are environmental downsides to the use of soil conditioners, especially if you overuse these conditioners.
For instance, the transfer of excess nutrients to waterways is common. This poses a threat to the quality of water consumption, and by extension, the environment. Also, some nutrients like nitrogen, metals, etc are not effective when used excessively and may be detrimental to the plant’s well-being.
You now know the importance of soil conditioners if you want to grow healthy plants and get better soil.
We also noted to you the various organic and inorganic soil conditioners, how to use soil conditioners, the difference between soil conditioners and fertilizers, as well as the environmental problems in the use of these soil amendments.
Always apply this knowledge in your agricultural endeavors!