What is Soil Fertility?

Soil fertility is the capacity of soil to support plant growth and the many beneficial processes that occur in soil.  Soil fertility is the combined effects of chemical, physical and biological characteristics of the soil.  We understand the physical and chemical characteristics of soil much better than we understood the biological part.

Biological fertility refers to the activities of soil organisms that improve plant growth.  The biology of soil is complex and we need to have a better understanding of how it impacts the chemical and physical aspects of our soils.

Our soils are alive and biological fertility encompasses a variety of soil organisms that include bacteria, fungi, microbes, nematodes, earthworms and insects.  Soil organisms in soil fertility are involved in:

  • Contributing to the aggregation of soil particles
  • Enhancing cycling of nutrients
  • Transforming nutrients from one from to another
  • Assisting plant to obtain nutrients from soil
  • Degrading toxic substances in soil
  • Causing disease in plants
  • Minimizing disease in plants
  • Assisting or hindering water penetration into soil

Biology/soil organisms contribute in a variety of ways to the condition of our soils.  The challenge is to select management practices and products that manipulate soil conditions to take advantage of beneficial biological processes.

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Watch for my next update where we will continue this discussion on soil fertility.

 

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3 Responses to What is Soil Fertility?

  1. Brad Rivers March 31, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    Good blog Yvette! It’s about maximizing economic yield with nutrition to the crop and it starts with the soil!

  2. Eric Niemeyer April 2, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    Great blog Yvette! Maximizing profitability of EVERY acre takes a holistic approach and SOIL HEALTH is an integral part of that (not just soil fertility). As farmers we have a responsibility to the soil and there are many tools we can use to improve the overall health of our soil. We all need to do our part to manage the use of inputs and on farm practices that will promote improved soil health. I spent the day yesterday at Dave Brandt’s farm yesterday (an event sponsored by The Ohio No-Till Counsil) where we heard a very inspiring talk by Ray Archuleta challenging us to do our part in promoting soil health. Excellent day, excellent investment of time!

  3. Yvette April 2, 2015 at 11:15 pm #

    Eric, Thanks for your comments, I totally agree and will check out what Ray has to say on soil health. I will be adding more blog posts on the topic and expanding on soil health and how it is the foundation from which we should start.

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