What is Soil Fertility?
Soil fertility and its management is essential to the sustainability of turfgrass production, requiring scientific methods and practices to ensure crops are provided essential plant nutrients. Studies have found that poor management of soil health can lead to harming waterways, contamination of soils, and greenhouse emissions. Read on to find out about the effects of differing soil fertility management and how studies have found its effect on best practice.
What is soil fertility?
Soil fertility refers to the soils ability to sustain plant growth through delivering essential plant nutrients. Plant nutrients essential to soil health can be broken down into two categories; essential macronutrients which includes nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus and micronutrients that include silicon, iron, and boron. The sources of these nutrients can come in many forms such as chemical, mineral, and organic, all providing nutrients to plants through application to either the soil or foliage.
Soil health is about having the right balance of nutrients that are available for plant uptake, so when the wrong nutrient or even the wrong amount of the right nutrient can result in deficiencies in other nutrients. An imbalance creates a greater chance of disease outbreak or unfavourable changes to the soil, implicating the importance of understanding best practice for soil management whether you be a turf farmer or grounds person.
What is best practice?
Best practice in terms of soil health management refers to taking charge of your soil fertility management program through testing and interpreting results. Determining and understanding which nutrients are deficient and in what amounts is paramount.
The effective management of the fertility of your soil has a vast range of benefits from reducing water and air pollution and creating a carbon neutral footprint. Nutrients applied to the soil either retained or not taken up by the plant can be transported to groundwater by leaching having possible effects upon human health or deterioration of water quality.
Things to keep in mind:
• In order to achieve accurate results proper sampling must be done, this means taking at least 20 uniform samples to get the best idea of the area.
• Soil acidity at or near neutrality ensures maximum availability of the plant’s essential nutrients for uptake.
• Sources of nutrients can come from sustainable sources being recycled materials including animal manure and wastewater.
Soil health is essential to turfgrass production, commercial and domestic management, ensuring the turfgrass is provided essential nutrients. Managing soil fertility ensures soil with have the right nutrients for the lifetime of the plant and ensures sustainability for the future.
Code of Conduct for the sustainable use and management of fertilizers. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.fao.org/3/ca5253en/ca5253en.pdf
Baird, J. (n.d.). Proper soil sampling Consistent use of labs Soil pH near neutral Seek help from experts when necessary Soil Fertility and Turfgrass Nutrition 101 Some important concepts you might have missed in or outside of the classroom. [online] Available at: https://www.usga.org/content/dam/usga/pdf/imported/course-care/070901.pdf
www.fao.org. (n.d.).Soil Fertility | Global Soil Partnership | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. [online] Available at: https://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/areas-of-work/soil-fertility/en/.