Table of Contents
Soil Survey, All you Should be know on his Characteristics
The physical constituents of the soil survey
Your soil contains four basic constituents:
- Humus, which is made up of all the organic elements. It comes from the decomposition of vegetable matter produced by the soil’s natural bacteriae. It retains water and fertilizing elements.
- Clay, which acts as a connecting agent between the constituents. It also retains water and fertilizer.
- Calcium, which comes from limestone, helps neutralize acidity.
- Sand, which is made of rock elements of various sizes. These elements don’t group together.
How can I identify the constituents of my soil easily?
To improve your soil survey it is important to know which elements it contains. A simple way of knowing the elements your soil contains, and in what proportion, is put a sample in a large glass of water and stir vigorously.
Let it settle for several hours until the water is almost transparent. The bigger elements like the sand will lie at the bottom, then above this will be the silt and the clay, then finally you will find the organic matter at the top.
You can then change its structure. If for example there is too much silt and clay, you can add sand and organic matter. Consult our file on soil improvement.
The pH of the Soil Survey
We call the soil alcaline if its pH is above 7.0 and acid if it is below this. If it has a of 7.0 exactly, it is defined as neutral.
It is important to know the pH of your soil in order to know the nutritive needs of your plants. For example, heath plants like rhododendrons need a lot of iron which is a trace element whose presence increases with the acidity level of the soil. In an alcaline soil, rhododendrons suffer from iron chlorosis.
Improving soil structure
Soil can be improved by enriching it minerally or organically.
- Add lime, little by little, to neutralize acidity
- Add sand, minimum 3/4mm sand, to make the soil less sticky
- Add vermiculite to lighten the soil survey
- Add wood ashes. Depending on the type of wood burned, their ashes contain up to 5% potassium, as well as phosphorous, iron, …
Organic enrichment is the result of decomposed vegetable matter or animal dung.
These help to lighten the sticky or clayey soil by loosening it up. Sandy soil, unlike clayey soil, improves the liaisons between the elements of which it is composed.
Furthermore, this humous absorbs humidity, thus helping plants to survive harsh summers.
- Add compost made from decomposed vegetable matter and organic household waste to improve the structure of the soil survey and to enrich it with the nutritive matter.
- Add horse, donkey, sheep, poultry or goat’s dung to a heavy soil to improve its structure and to enrich it with the nutritive matter.
- Add cowdung to a light soil to improve its structure and to enrich it with nutritive matter.
- Add leaf mold to enrich the soil with nutritive matter.
- Add fibric peat (or a similar product). This is peat which has condensed over the years. It decomposes very slowly and therefore structures the soil survey for a long period. However, peat doesn’t contain much fertilizing elements for plants. Peat is excellent for lightening heavy soil. It increases the soil’s capacity to retain groundwater.
- Grow natural fertilizer, like mustard. These plants develop very quickly, and you simply have to bury them to enrich the soil before Winter. Sow them after the summer harvest. One of the best organic fertilizers is the annual crimson clover. Burying it helps improve the clayey soil survey as well as enriching its nitrogen content.