Originally Posted by Ric
FYI here is a copy & paste about soil However lets not get into it until we finish Fertilizer. I place it here only to give a little back ground for Fertilizer.
Soil is one of the most important factors in successful landscape. We use the soil triangle as a basic tool to understand soil. Sandy soil consists of large particles with large void spaces and water runs right through it. Clay soil has tiny particles with tiny void spaces and water is trapped by it. Loam or silt has medium sized particles with medium void spaces that both hold and drain water.
Silt allows plant root to both drink and breath. It is important to remember. The spaces between soil particles, is where roots grow. These spaces should be 50% by volume. Therefore after free drainage soil should be 50% solid particles 25% air filled void space and 25% water filled void space. The more we know about soil the better able we are to grow plants. Soil is the environment in which plants live. We do not water or fertilize our plants. We water and fertilize the environment in which they live. We must understand the relationship between all of these factors of soil. Volumes have been written about soil. I only offer a very condensed version.
The top 6 to 8 inches of the soil (rhizoshere) is where most landscape plants, from the mighty oak tree to a blade of grass, get their nutrition. The movement of air and water through this environment is important. Proper Drainage is as important as irrigation. Saturated soil does not allow air to get into the soil. Air is important to the roots of a plant as well as the beneficial aerobic microorganisms in the soil. Fertilizer, irrigation, drainage and Aeration help us manage this environment we call soil. This environment is complex and changing every minute. Spend the extra money for good topsoil on the final fill and grade if you are building a new house in Charlotte County. You will save that money many times over in water and fertilizer. Soil is one of the most important factors in successful landscape.
How do we judge soil? By looks, what color it is. By smell, aerobic soil has a sweet smell. Anaerobic soil has a sour or foul smell. And by feel, sandy soil will not clump in our hand or form a ball. Clay soil will clump in our hand but not break apart. Silt will clump in our hand and break apart easily. Thatís Qualitative; measurement differs individual to individual (Quantitative denotes scientific measurement). We give those measurements a name and can put numbers to them. For example pH., which measures how acidic or alkaline the soil, is. In Coastal Charlotte Co. our soil is alkaline so the last thing we want to do is add lime. Instead we manage the soil chemically with acid forming fertilizers. Physical properties of soil are measured in terms like texture, structure, particle size distribution, particle shape, density, infiltration, percolation, hydraulic conductivity, and water potential etc.
Bulk density is the way we measure compaction. Compaction is why farmers plow their fields and core aeration is how we manage compaction on turf soils. Compaction of the soil closes the void spaces. Water, air, fertilizer, and roots need these void spaces for our plants to grow healthy. Chemical properties are measured in terms like cation & anion exchange, salinity, pH, redox potential, and volatilization etc. You donít have to understand or know all of these term and reactions to have a nice yard, but the Farmer, golf course greens keeper and the nursery grower knows this science. It is this science that allows a few to feed the many.
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