The soil is crucial for plants’ growth since their roots gather water and nutrients from it. During the last years, the level of attention to the safeguard, enhancement and certification of both environment and agricultural products has grown hugely, as the necessity to find a proper way for fertilization. How do we get a proper fertilization, making the soil extremely fertile? Let’s find it out!
The importance of the soil fertility analysis
In recent times, the concept of sustainable agriculture has become more and more present. It doesn’t mean the cut of production quantity but, on the contrary, aims to the technical innovation concerning fertilization and cultivation. In our climatic environment, the resources and their sustainability are not easy matters to manage; all the zones featuring a Mediterranean climate are in fact the most exposed to the risk of soil fertility loss (sometimes related to soil fatigue) due to the speed of both mineralization and salinization processes of the organic matter, caused by low quality water irrigation.
In this outlook, the soil is considered as a renewable resource, which fertility must be conserved and developed for the next generations. The farmer, in addition to the reach of a satisfying economical income, has to pay attention to the cultivation processes, considering the points above.
The agrochemical analysis of the soil it’s crucial because, if carried out properly, allows to obtain a lot of information concerning the soil fertility letting the farmer being more precise on both fertilization and general cultural practices. For the modern agricultural manager, nothing can be imprecise. The analysis of the soil is an essential instrument for a precise management of the fertilization processes, allowing the reach of high standards crops. Through these analyses, the farmer can carry out more precise fertilizations: both the mistakes and excesses are reduced, getting huge money saving and huge level of environment safeguard, keeping the crops always constantly fed.
Characteristics and function of the soil analysis
Knowing the soil characteristics is essential: their knowledge is in fact necessary for the choice of the most suitable crops, since they are the connections for plants and soil compatibility. A correct soil analysis is composed by a series of evaluations: mainly physical and chemical.
The physical evaluations are referred to the soil physical structure, which include:
- Hydrological characteristics (field capacity and drying point);
- Structure capacity
On a routine basis, granulometry is the only physical characteristic analyzed, since the other properties (such as texture, permeability, field capacity, hydrological characteristics and drying point) can be extrapolated directly from such aspect. All these data are very important in order to plan and to manage an irrigation plant (which should avoid other problems as water stagnation).
As per second instance, there are the chemical evaluations which are related to other aspects such as: pH reaction, electrical conductivity (salinity), total amount of limestone and active limestone, organic substance, total amount of nitrogen, assimilable phosphorus, exchange basis (Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Hydrogen), capacity of cation exchanges (C.S.C.) and assimilable microelements (Ferrous, Manganese, Copper, Zync, Boro and Molybdenum)
In order to better understand how these factors affect the soil fertility, let’s analyze them in detail:
- pH reaction of the soil is the parameter which defines the chemistry of the soil, on which depends most part of the compatibility plant-soil;
- Electrical conductivity is an indirect measure of the osmosis of the soil salinity. High levels of conductivity mean an excess of soluble salts in the soil solution, so the plants will show more easily salinity-related diseases (high osmosis)
- Total limestone expresses the totality of carbonates in the soil - normally Calcium carbonate and Magnesium carbonate - having bigger or smaller dimensions. The finest part of Calcium carbonate which shows a bigger activity is known as active limestone;
- soil organic substance is an important parameter: if the soil contains an adequate content of organic substance, its bio-chemical characteristics are normally optimal with good physical properties; the organic substance will stabilize the structure;
- Total nitrogen is a parameter which is always present in the soil, with low importance related to the necessary nitrogen-based fertilizers. It is strictly related to the organic substance, to the ration C/N and to its mineralization. The nitrogen-based fertilization processes are performed on agronomic basis and just in second place they can be adjusted in relation to the content of total nitrogen;
- assimilable phosphorus, extracted through the Olsen method, supplies a rate of response on which is possible to define enrichment and preserving fertilizations. On the contrary, can be decided to not use phosphorous-based fertilizers;
- Cation exchange capacity (or CSC) refers to the capacity of the soil to keep the cations “Ca++ (Calcium), K+ (Potassium), Mg++ (Magnesium), Na+ (Sodium), NH4+ (Ammoniacal Nitrogen)” on an exchange basis, being ready to be assimilated by the crops. The exchange capacity is therefore the warehouse where the cation elements are stocked. Such capacity depends and its highly related to the quantity and type of clay and to the organic substance. Sandy soils, which are poor of organic substance, present very low exchange capacity; on the contrary, clayey soils, with high or low organic substance present higher exchange capacity. Together with the capacity of water retention, CSC is the most important soil property.
- The most important microelements necessary for the plants’ nutrition are: Ferrous, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, Boro and Zync. Such elements are absorbed by the plants in low quantities, being however very important for the crops’ growth.
For a correct understanding of the soil fertility, in order to plan a good fertilization process, it’s necessary to carry out a preliminary phase of analysis. The agrochemical analysis of the soil in fact allows to obtain data and information useful to understand the characteristics of the soil to be fertilized. Through a complete analysis, based on both physical and chemical evaluations, it’s possible to get a complete overview and then to operate in a way to guarantee a good level soil fertility.
Forigo Roter Italia for decades has been developing machines for the soil preparation, which can bring different advantages, among whom a higher soil fertility. The Forigo products’ catalogue in fact is composed by stone buriers, bed formers, power harrows, plastic-layers and many other solutions, capable to adapt to any kind of soil.
If you would like to get more information on our machines and on our customized solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us: Forigo team it’s at your complete disposal for any question or curiosity.