Soil Fertility Restoration Analysis Report
Soil Fertility Restoration Analysis ReportAbstractIn relation to the report from the U.S Environmental Department, the main parameters for measuring the soil quality are soil structure, soil micro-organisms, soil organic matter, soil profile/ depth, nutrients presents, soil moisture and carbon to nitrogen ratio. Notably, these are but a few soil attributes that depict the overall state of the soil, which affect crop production. Explicitly, this report illustrates how the mentioned soil characteristics influence crop production. Again, the paper reiterates on the concept of soil fertility, how it can degenerates, and outlines appropriate recommendations for sustainable agricultural practices that ought to be applied so as to maintain or improve soil fertility (Blanco & Lal, 2008).
Table of Contents
TOC o “1-3” h z u HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294039” Soil Fertility Restoration Analysis Report PAGEREF _Toc390294039 h 1
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294040” Abstract PAGEREF _Toc390294040 h 2
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294041” Introduction PAGEREF _Toc390294041 h 4
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294042” Maintenance of soil fertility using agricultural practices PAGEREF _Toc390294042 h 4
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294043” Roles of mycorrhizal fungi PAGEREF _Toc390294043 h 5
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294044” Relationship between protozoa, bacteria, and nitrogen PAGEREF _Toc390294044 h 5
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294045” Effect of absence of soil arthropods PAGEREF _Toc390294045 h 5
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294046” Soil organic matter (SOM) PAGEREF _Toc390294046 h 6
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294047” Ways through which plants use water PAGEREF _Toc390294047 h 6
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294048” Biological control of harmful species PAGEREF _Toc390294048 h 6
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294049” Effects of addition of nitrogen to the soil PAGEREF _Toc390294049 h 6
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294050” Recommendations for sustainable practices PAGEREF _Toc390294050 h 7
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294051” Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc390294051 h 7
HYPERLINK l “_Toc390294052” References PAGEREF _Toc390294052 h 8
IntroductionSoils represent the medium for plant growth that form due to long-term geological weathering or breakdown of parental rocks, living, and dead organic matters. Evidently, characteristic of soil, which defines its quality, differs depending on the original rocks, climate, topography, and management practices. Soil managements may involve irrigation, tillage, application of organic matters, pesticide use, and use of inorganic fertilizers and so forth. However, uncontrolled agricultural practices or soil managements result to soil disturbance and subsequent alteration of the recommended soil properties; thus, leading to reduced crop productionCategorically, soil quality is a surrogate of the physical, biological, and chemical inherent soil characteristics. Soil physical properties include organic matter, moisture, temperature, and depth while the biological aspect entails the soil biota such as nematodes, protozoa, fungi, and bacteria. On the other hand, chemical factors attribute to soil minerals such as nitrogen (N), carbon, potassium, magnesium amongst others. Soil is susceptible to losing fertility if used unsustainably; therefore, it is paramount to employ sustainable agricultural practices to as to maintain or improve soil quality (Blanco & Lal, 2008).Maintenance of Soil Fertility using Agricultural PracticesWell planned and executed farming methods protect the soil from degradation; for instance, minimum tillage reduces soil compaction, and harm to the soil micro-organisms. Again, organic farming, and use of organic manure increase the soil organic matter that acts as shelter and food for soil biota. Also, the organic matter improves the soil water holding capacity and structure (Blanco & Lal, 2008). Consequently, retained moisture allows robust plant growth since the available water allows autotrophic plants to undertake photosynthesis. Artificial application of inorganic fertilizers in recommended amounts is also essential in improving soil nutrients absorbed by plants for growth. Additionally, crop rotation, intercropping, and agroforestry are important practices in necessitating nutrient cycling and maintenance. In particular, growing of nitrogen fixing plants enhances fixation of atmospheric N into the soil. Moreover preventing soil erosion through mulching, terracing, and growing cover crops protects the soil from physical, biological, and chemical deterioration (Röling & Wagemakers, 2000).Roles of Mycorrhizal FungiThe fungi live symbiotically with plant roots, especially the herbaceous plants. The fungal strands (hyphae) gather moisture and nutrients from uncultivated soil in exchange of the sugar extracted from the plant roots. Again, the fungi provide for a secondary root system for plants; thus, allow effective and improved absorptions of moisture and the soil. Soil also benefits from fixed nutrients and particles being held firmly; hence reduce erosions (Blanco & Lal, 2008).Relationship between Protozoa, Bacteria, and NitrogenSingle-celled protozoa feed primarily on soil bacteria, but they can also feed on soluble organic matter, other protozoa, and fungi. As they feed on bacteria, the protozoa release or excrete excess nitrogen in the form of ammonium (NH4+), which plants absorb for nutrition and some used by other bacteria. Again, protozoa mineralize nutrients; hence availing the essential nutrients for crops. Furthermore, protozoa stimulate proliferation of the bacterial population, which in turn accelerates decomposition and soil aggregation; thus aid in soil formation and improvement of soil structure (Röling & Wagemakers, 2000).Effect of Absence of Soil ArthropodsSoil arthropods help in shredding organic matter, improving soil porosity, root penetration, prevent crusting, mineralization, and aerate the soil through burrowing. Therefore, their absence reduced the rate of organic decomposition. Increasing the count can be done by adding organic matter and avoiding soil compaction.Soil Organic Matter (SOM)Organic matter has a variety of roles such as buffering soil pH, increases cation exchange capacity, chelates micronutrients, feed for soil biota, improves soil structures, and water holding capacity. Adding SOM includes organic farming, mulching, use of plant residues, and application of organic manure (Röling & Wagemakers, 2000).Ways through which Plants Use WaterPlants use 1 to 5% of the absorbed water for photosynthesis and growth. The rest are transpired and in the process cools the plants. Again, water dissolves nutrients to make them absorbable for plants via the root hairs. In addition, water flow through the cellular medium enhances turgidity of the cell; which is responsible for support, particularly in herbaceous plants (Blanco & Lal, 2008).Biological Control of Harmful SpeciesPesticides have adverse effects when used in excess, therefore, to avoid this, biological control methods are recommended such as the use of predatory beneficial insects or natural enemies such as beetle bank. Other plausible methods are planting pest-repellant crops, use of biological pesticides, and building physical barriers like insect traps and row covers. Also, crop rotation, shelterbelts, and hedgerow interrupt pest reproduction and life cycles (Röling & Wagemakers, 2000).Effects of Addition of Nitrogen to the SoilSoils with high C: N ratio allow bacterial immobilization of ammonium and nitrate, leading to reduced mineral N. short-term addition of N improves the crop production; however, long-term application is toxic as the soil chemistry changes. The soil becomes overwhelmed by fertilizer leading to crop failures (Blanco & Lal, 2008).Recommendations for Sustainable PracticesThe farmer should apply green/ organic manure instead of reliance on inorganic fertilizersAdopt better residue management and addition of organic matterApply crop rotation, conservation tillage, intercropping, use cover crops, and erosion prevention strategies to protect all the soil properties from degradationThe farmer ought to practice agroforestry and grow leguminous plants to enhance nutrient cyclingConclusionSoil quality is a proxy of the inherent soil characteristics (physical, biological, and biological), which must be maintained or improved to herald high crop yields. Therefore, soil managements as recommended on this are imperative to avoid crop failures.
ReferencesBlanco, H., & Lal, R. (2008). Principles of soil conservation and management. Dordrecht?: Springer.
Röling, N. G., & Wagemakers, M. A. E. (2000). Facilitating sustainable agriculture: Participatory learning and adaptive management in times of environmental uncertainty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.