Marco van Gurp (Soil Services Int - N-xt Fertilizers) argues for a different view on soil fertility: The basis of the soil has to be well constructed, only after that the needs of the crop can be met. This approach offers solutions for the declining quality and fertility of many soils in the world.
In agriculture the question is often asked: how can this soil yield my crop? A better question would be: what does my soil need to be healthy? Healthy soils almost always yield the desired results. To tackle soil fertility problems, it first helps to understand how soil fertility works. Water and oxygen are important foundations for soils. As Marco says: you can compare soil to gears in an engine. Everything is linked together and it can only rotate if it is properly tuned to each other. The 'oil' that makes the gears rotate smoothly is organic matter (see picture below).
A different way of looking at the soil is to see it as 'the house of biology'. The ratio of minerals (chemistry) is the foundation of your house. This makes it possible to build a good structure. These two aspects form the conditions under which biology can eventually function and develop in the house.
Soils with problems such as hard, dense soil and little absorption capacity have underlying soil problems. The quantity of basic elements has become unbalanced. This is often due to misuse of soil and one-sided use of chemical fertilizers consisting mainly of NPK. This causes the system to get out of balance. Another problem, or rather a consequence, is the low pH in many soils. As a result, organic life cannot develop sufficiently in the soil, which again leads to a lack of balance.
How can soil fertility be improved?
To improve soil fertility the following steps could be taken according to healthy-soil.com:
1. Soil analysis according to the Kinsey-Albrecht method
First, increasing knowledge is important: do you know your ground? The Kinsey-Albrecht analysis looks at the exchange capacity of the soil in which the amount of calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and potassium (K) play an important role. So the 'foundation' of your soil!
2. Analysis and expansion of the active soil life
It is now possible to analyse what moulds, nematodes, worms and bacteria are present in the soil. Active soil life ensures good decomposition of organic matter from manure, compost and crop residues, making minerals and trace elements more readily available. Now that the knowledge is there, practical work can be done.
3. Removal of any compacted layers in the soil
Compacted layers in the soil block moisture supply in dry areas. In wet periods dewatering is made more difficult. The thick layers can be measured with a 'penetrometer'. The soil can then be turned over by machines. The soil can also be aerated by making (thin) holes in the soil. Compacted layers can also be removed from the soil by adding organic compost and organic manure to the soil. This process is slower, but ensures more active soil life and therefore healthier soil.
4. Increasing the amount of organic matter
Active soil life can be stimulated by green manure, animal manure, crop rotation, leaving crop residues so that they can compost and lay other compost streams on the soil. This stimulates humus conversion.
5. Adjusting the quantity of trace elements
The Kinsey-Albrecht report indicates which trace elements need to be supplemented in order to optimise the processes in the soil. This can also be linked to the needs of the crop.
6. Fertilize according to crop needs
Nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, magnesium and sulphur are fertilized on the basis of crop requirements. If the soil is in order, this will need to be controlled as a minimum. So the traditional fertilizers are actually the last to be used!
These steps lead to a healthy and fertile soil!
For more information visit: n-xt.com/en
Marco van Gurp
Marco van Gurp
06 10 55 42 38
Bodem vs Koe