Soil Organic Matter and Nutrition

Soil Organic Matter and Nutrition



we're going to take a look at some of the organic materials that we can use in building up our soils and these are not all created equally right no tell me a bit about some of our options alright well so like here you've got compost and it's one of the most common you know organic amendments that gardeners would use and the challenge with it it are the good thing about is it's rich in nutrients it's got a good carpet carbon to nitrogen ratio so when you apply that to the soil you're going to be ready to go to grow grow your garden the challenge is is that because it's so high in nutrients years and years of application cause excessive nutrient loading in the soil like phosphorous and we hear about phosphorus and problems that it causes with water quality so I like to see a limit on this once your soil matures into a nice fertile soil and that's where when we get into some of these other materials they have lower organic or they have lower nutrient value per pound material and so you'll be much less likely of building that nutrient content too high okay and one of the lowest is pressing clippings fresh grass clippings are fairly good I mean they've got you know because they're nice and fresh and green and so they're going to have a pretty good nutrient content the seeding ratio of them is about 20 to 1 so you apply these and it'll take longer to release the nitrogen than it would from compost but it will release and you can build some nutrients from that but at least you're not bringing them in from off-site compost unless you're composting your own leaf clippings and yard waste you're bringing that in from off-site whereas this is just being cycled through your yard and and then the same thing with straw it's an off-site deal now you use the term c2n ratio which is carbon to nitrogen so we're looking at the ratio of carbon and nitrogen that comes out of the material we're adding yeah I just wanted to clarify that young viewers can see the microbes this this straw or grass this hay material it's got a fairly high seeding ratio probably about 50 to 60 to 1 or fifty or sixty to one so that means that has say sixty carbon molecules for every molecule of nitrogen and when microbes decompose that they're going to scavenge the nitrogen from your soil and rob it from your plants that you're actually trying to grow so they won't grow and or they'll be yellowed so we need to be thoughtful when we use a material like that so before we talk about the nitrogen which is going to be very important there's one more material actually to we're sitting on top of wood chips yeah certainly another material we can yes and wood chips you know that's a great mulch it's a fairly stable organic material and because it's hard for the microbes and so biology to break down but it will slowly if you keep it covered with wood chips that materials add into the organic condition of the subject of the soil as well the peat moss and I like peat moss because it's a fairly stable organic matter meaning that it won't decompose as quickly and so that's the challenge organic matter decomposes over time and we want that because that's going to release nutrients and feed the microbial population but we want it to be maintained to some extent and this is a material that's as stable or nearly as stable as the compost with respect to pounds of organic matter applied that will persist over time but it doesn't have as high nutrient content so you can apply that without adding a whole large amount of nutrients with it and so we won't get that phosphorus build-up you're passing but it yet it's a fairly stable organic matter material that will build water holding capacity and improve the drainage of clays and things like that and but you have to be thoughtful too because if you it will drive your pH down particularly in a sand if you've got a heavy clay soil not so much because it's more buffered but these are the options they have pros and cons and we used our garden Katz decided to join us for this egg all right cowboy so one thing we we we want to put these raw materials are really good to be putting down in the fall yeah we compose right into our swells exactly so and they take time to decompose and break down and do what you want but during that fallow period they'll keep the soil open right mm-hmm and but the challenge is is is how that raw material is going to affect your nutrients right that you're going to want to go into your into your garden and plants you can see that sometimes a garden that's been mulched say with grass clippings or leaves and the plants are struggling because they don't have enough nitrogen because the nitrogen is being used to decompose that yeah and so you could put those in just prior to your offseason and let them decompose and that will kind of stabilize the nutrient condition versus putting them in in the spring and then they'll be decomposing while your plants are trying to grow and that's kind of a problem for like you say then so you'd want to use something like a compost in the spring because that's going to have ready a readily available nutrients in it and then build your organic matter with the raw material in the fall okay and we're going to want to follow that up in the spring time with a soil test to make sure that we have adequate nitrogen yep because that soil test it'll tell you where you're at on your nitrogen concentrations and whether you need you apply supplemental nitrogen all right well thank you so much Jason yep you

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3 thoughts on “Soil Organic Matter and Nutrition

  1. i dont know if i agree with limiting compost applications, even if your soil matures to fertile. If you plant in the area where you apply, the plants should in theory use up the nutrients. Plant densely, and you wont have a problem. but even in say, regular backyard gardening, theres NEVER enough nutrients from compost at least, to cause an excess. It breaks down VERY slowly. rains, wash it away, roots from other plants spread and use up the nutrients, etc.

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