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Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers
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Basics of Soil Fertility for Urban (and Non-Urban) Growers

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This presentation will teach you what soil is, how to find out what type of soil you have, how soil feeds plant, and how to improve your soil's health.

This presentation will teach you what soil is, how to find out what type of soil you have, how soil feeds plant, and how to improve your soil's health.

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  • 1. BASICS OF SOIL FERTILITY FOR URBAN (AND NON-URBAN) GROWERS Anne Pfeiffer UW-Madison Thanks to Erin Silva for some slide content
  • 2. PLANTS NEED…
  • 3. OVERVIEW• A Quick Intro to Soils• Finding your Soil Type• How Soils Feed Plants• What It All Means: Growing Healthy Plants• Fertilizer Calculation Example
  • 4. BY THE TIME YOU LEAVE…• Have a clear understanding of the essential soil considerations for locating a garden or farm• Know how, when and why to conduct a soil test and how to interpret the results• Gain a basic understanding about how to make soil and fertility management decisions.• Access resources for non-biased, straightforward information about soil management
  • 5. A QUICK OVERVIEW OFSOILS
  • 6. SOILS: MORE THAN “JUST DIRT”• Hold up plants• Provide air and water to plants• Supply nutrients –Plants need sufficient quantity but not too much• Provide habitat for soil organisms
  • 7. CHARACTERISTICS OF AN IDEAL SOIL• What are characteristics of ideal soils? –Fertile –Deep –Well drained/aerated –High in organic matter –Friable • soil is easily worked
  • 8. WHAT IS SOIL? 2-5% Organic Matter50% Solid Matter 50% Pore Space
  • 9. MINERAL AND ORGANIC• COMPONENTS Broken down rock particles – Depends on parent material – Clay particles hold nutrients• Organic matter (containing carbon) – Decomposed plant and animal matter – Ideal soil is about 5% organic matter – Complex molecular structure plays special role: • Source of food for soil microorganisms • Source of nutrients for plants • Holds minerals against loss due to leaching – May or may not be plant available
  • 10. PORE SPACE• Air (~25% of total soil volume) –Oxygen supports soil life • Roots • Microbes –Air can be displaced by water• Water (~25% of total soil volume) –Carries nutrients to plants
  • 11. SOIL PROFILE • Topsoil (A horizon) – It is the darkest layer of the soil because it contains organic matter and humus. – Contains majority of feeding roots of plants • Subsoil – Low in nutrients – Contains few microorganisms – Structure of subsoil is important for drainage • Often disturbed in urban settings
  • 12. EXAMPLE OF A SOIL PROFILE • Note the dark organic horizon at the surface and changes in color and structure down the profile
  • 13. SOIL TEXTURE• Determined by mineral component• Coarseness or fineness of soil• Why is texture important? –The texture will determine how much air is in soil and how well water flows through the soil –Determines how easily the soil is worked and under what conditions
  • 14. SOIL TEXTURE: CLAY • Soil particles are less than 0.002 mm in size • Does not drain easily and is difficult to work • Root growth is poor due to small spaces between soil particles
  • 15. SOIL TEXTURE: SILT• Particle size is between 0.002 to 0.05 mm• Feels silky to the touch
  • 16. SOIL TEXTURE: SAND • Sand particles range in size from 0.2 mm for the very finest sand to 2 mm for the coarsest • Feels gritty if rubbed between your fingers • Warms up and dries early in spring • Low in nutrients
  • 17. SOILS ARE A MIX OF SAND, SILT AND CLAY
  • 18. SOIL TYPES• Most soils are a mixture of different soil textures – Often a soil type will be dominated by a particular texture• Can group soil types by how well drain and major texture class they contain – Heavy soils • Contain a high proportion of clay – Light soils • Contain a high proportion of sand• Important to know the soil type because it will determine the management practices you need to use
  • 19. FINDING YOUR SOIL TYPE
  • 20. http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/
  • 21. SOILS AND PLANTNUTRITION
  • 22. ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS FOR PLANT NUTRITION• Must be required for the completion of the life cycle of the plant.• Must not be replaceable by another element.• Must be directly involved in plant metabolism, that is, it must be required for a specific physiological function.• The element must be required by a substantial number of plant species, not just a single species or two.
  • 23. 16 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS• C, H, and O are not considered minerals• Macronutrients: – Primary macronutrients: N, P, and K • Needed in relatively large amounts – Secondary macronutrients: Ca, Mg, S • May be supplied in smaller quantities• Micronutrients: Cl, Fe, B, Mn, Zn, Cu, Mo – Required in small amounts but still essential – Deficiencies lead to severe depression in growth, yield, and quality• If any one is missing or low, plant productivity is limited
  • 24. ELEMENTS REQUIRED IN PLANT NUTRITION
  • 25. SOIL NUTRIENTS• Ability of a soil to hold nutrients and release them to plants depends on – Presence and availability of nutrients – Soil texture – Organic matter• Clay size particles and organic matter both hold nutrients but make them available to different degrees• …HOW?
  • 26. SOIL ACTS AS A MAGNET• Attracts and retains positively charged ions in soil solution• Prevents them from moving downward with water (leaching)
  • 27. AN ION?
  • 28. IONS ATTRACTED TO SOIL PARTICLEBrady & Weil, 2004. Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soils
  • 29. CATION EXCHANGE CAPACITY• (CEC) and humus to attract The ability of clay, organic matter, positive ions – Clay, organic matter, and humus all have negative charges on their surfaces – Most nutrients (P, K, Ca, etc) are cations or have positive charges – “Opposites attract”• The higher the cation exchange capacity, the more closely the nutrients are held and the less likely they are to be lost to leaching• (soils also have anion exchange and it works the same way)
  • 30. HOW DOES CEC DIFFER IN• In general… SOILS? – Sand- low CEC – Clay – high CEC• Soil with low CEC– generally has low clay and organic matter, low water holding capacity, requires more frequent fertilizer and lime amendments, and is prone to leaching• Soils with CEC greater than 20 may have high clay content, moderate to high organic matter content, high water holding capacity, less frequent need for lime and fertilizers (except N), and low leaching potential for cationic nutrients. • On the other hand, their physical properties may make it difficult for a farmer to cultivate, irrigate or maintain good aeration
  • 31. GROWING HEALTHY PLANTS
  • 32. SOIL TESTING• Soil tests can assess nutrient levels• Available in most states for a minimal fee
  • 33. http://uwlab.soils.wisc.edu/ OR, search “WI soil testing”
  • 34. NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS• The correct nutrient balance … –Depends on soil type and texture –Varies by plant –Is affected by climate
  • 35. Approximate nutrient removal (lb/unit of yield) in the harvested portion PLANTS HAVE DIFFERENT NEEDSof several Michigan vegetable crops. 11 ton=20 cwtSource: Fertilizer Recommendations for Vegetable Crops in Michigan (Warneke et al. 1992)Crop N P2O5 K2O N P2O5 K2O -lb/ct1- -lb/ton1-Asparagus 0.67 0.20 0.50 13 4.0 10Beans, snap 1.2 0.12 0.55 24 2.4 11Broccoli 0.20 0.05 0.55 4.0 1.0 11Cabbage 0.35 0.08 0.35 7.0 1.6 7.0Carrots 0.17 0.09 0.34 3.4 1.8 6.8Cauliflower 0.33 0.13 0.33 6.6 2.6 6.6Celery 0.25 0.10 0.80 5.0 2.0 16Cucumbers 0.10 0.06 0.18 2.0 1.2 3.6Lettuce 0.24 0.10 0.45 4.8 2.0 9.0Muskmelon 0.42 0.10 0.55 8.4 2.0 11Onions 0.25 0.13 0.24 5.0 2.6 4.8Peas, shelled 1.0 0.23 0.50 20 4.6 10Peppers 0.20 0.07 0.28 4.0 1.4 5.6Pumpkins 0.20 0.06 0.34 4.0 1.2 6.8Sweet 0.42 0.14 0.28 8.4 2.8 5.6Squash 0.18 0.08 0.33 3.6 1.6 6.6Tomatoes 0.20 0.04 0.35 4.0 0.8 7.0
  • 36.   Guide to the Mineral Nutrient Value of Organic Materials Percent (%)Materials: Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium Relative Nutrient Availability FERTILIZERS ACT DIFFERENTLY (%N) (%P2O5) (%K2O)Bone Meal(raw) 2 to 6 15 to 27 0 SlowBone Meal(steamed) 0.7 to 4 10 to 34 0 Slow Med.Cocoa Shell Meal 2.5 1 2.5 SlowCompost(not fortified) 1.5 to 3.5 0.5 to 1 1 to 2 SlowCotton Seed Meal(dry) 6 2.5 1.7 Slow Med.Dried Blood(dry) 12 1.5 0.57 Med. RapidFish Meal(dry) 10 4 0 SlowManure(fresh)  Cattle 0.25 0.15 0.25 MediumHorse 0.3 0.15 0.5 MediumSheep 0.6 0.33 0.75 MediumSwine 0.3 0.3 0.3 MediumPoultry(50%water) 2 2 1 Med. RapidMilorganite(dry) 5 2 to 5 2 MediumMushroom Compost .4 to.7 1 .5 to 1.5 SlowPeat and Muck 1.5 to 3 .25 to .5 .5 to 1 Very SlowSawdust 4 2 4 Very SlowSewage Sludge(digested) 1 to 3 .5 to 4 0 to .5 SlowUrea 42 to 5 0 0 RapidWood Ashes* 0 1 to 2 3 to 7 Rapid* Wood ashes may raise pHCornell gardening resources A Guide to the Nutrient Value of Organic Materials, Ecogardening Factsheet #8, Spring 1993
  • 37. PH MATTERS
  • 38. MORE ISN’T BETTER• Too much of any nutrient can be negative – Poor fruit set – Run-off or leaching resulting in environmental pollution – Soil acidification through reaction with nitrogen
  • 39. FERTILIZER CALCULATIONEXAMPLE
  • 40. CALCULATING AMENDMENTS• http://www.caes.uga.edu/publications/pubD
  • 41. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES• Basic Soil Science: – Chapter 3. Concepts of Basic Soil Science, W. Lee Daniels and Kathryn C. Haering, Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech – www.mawaterquality.org/capacity_building/mid.../chapter3.pdf• Calculating organic amendments: – How to Convert an Inorganic Fertilizer Recommendation to an Organic One, Revised by Julia Gaskin, David Kissel, Glen Harris and George Boyhan. Original manuscript by Wayne McLaurin, retired Horticulture Professor, and Water Reeves, retired Horticulture Educator – http://www.caes.uga.edu/Publications/displayPDF.cfm?pk_ID=7170
  • 42. Anne Pfeiffer UW-MadisonCommunity and Regional Food Systems www.community-food.org

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