Sustainable Soil Management
Sustainable soil management is the practice of helping the soil to maintain a balance of nutrients to provide fertile growing conditions for the plants. The best-managed soil will be crumbly and rich in organic matter. It will drain well without becoming waterlogged in the rain or after a thorough watering. Good soil quality is vital to the success of any planting endeavor. Aside from that, having healthy soil can give better air quality and clean water. Agricultural lands, forests and other areas where planting is done can also thrive and give out a bountiful harvest.
No matter which type of soil you end up with, it's important to understand that all soils will greatly benefit from certain kinds of enrichment, whether from organic fertilizers, manures or compost materials. The health of your garden, no matter what you plant, will rely on the fertility of the soil. Fertile soil is the basis for organic gardening, whose Golden Rule is, 'Feed the Soil, Not the Plant.' One of the most commonly available organic products around to use in a sustainable soil management program is good old-fashioned manure.
However, to be considered truly natural, that manure must be aged.It's tough to purchase any purely organic matter to use in your garden, even when it comes to manure. To get around this, any manure you buy from a supplier, or even from the neighbor's pasture, should be allowed to "age" for about a year to leach out any chemicals or toxins. Just as plants, flowers, trees and any other living thing needs nutrients in various components and proportions, the soil also needs to maintain a balance of nutrients to provide fertile growing conditions for anything you wish to plant. Some of the most shared and necessary nutrients found in well-sustained soil are:
Oxygen - The amount of oxygen in the soil will determine the health and type of life it supports.
Water - Water is vital for all forms of life. However, too much water causes oxygen levels to drop and slows down nutrition cycles.
Nitrogen - Produces complex molecules like amino acids, nucleic acids, and proteins commonly known as the 'building blocks' of life. It comes mostly from the decomposition of organic matter.
Phosphorus - This trace element is second only to nitrogen as the most important element in the soil to promote root growth.
Iron - This is needed for the process that creates chlorophyll.
Manganese - This is also a trace element that is necessary for the formation of both chlorophyll and protein.
Copper - This is yet another trace element that activates enzymes, which stimulate cellular growth.
Boron - This trace is needed by all organic tissues of a plant.
All types of soils will greatly benefit from some enrichment, whether it comes from organic fertilizers, manures or compost materials. The health of your garden, no matter what you plant, will rely on how well your soil is managed. Organic matter is the most important component of having good soil quality. It serves as the reservoir of water and nutrients needed by the soil, reduces crusting and compaction on surfaces and infiltrates water. However, organic matter is often disregarded and misunderstood.