Types of farming soil -Throughout human history, our relationship with the soil has influenced our ability to cultivate crops and influenced the success of civilizations.  This connection between people, land and food sources confirms the soil as the basis of agriculture.

  Human society has evolved through the use of our planet’s resources in extremely unique, creative and productive ways that have contributed to human evolution and the support of global society.  From these resources, soil and water provided people with the ability to produce food from agriculture for a living. 

  It is clear that agriculture supports and defines our modern life, but it often destroys natural ecosystems.  This is especially true of plant communities, animal populations, soil systems and water resources.  Understanding, assessing and balancing destructive and beneficial agricultural disturbances of soil and water resources are important tasks of human efforts to maintain and improve human well-being.  Such knowledge influences our emerging ethics of sustainable development and responsibility to the human population and ecosystems of the future.

  Soil fertility and yield growth

  The early use of fire to extract wild game and clear forest lands provided the first significant anthropogenic impact on the environment.  By burning local vegetation, the first humans were able to access herbivores that graze in the savannah and surrounding forests, as well as suppress the growth of less desirable plant species for those who find it easier to forage and eat.

  These and other factors (eg population pressure, climate change, promotion / protection of desirable plants) help lay the groundwork for the agricultural revolution and have caused a sharp shift in human-land interactions.  The transition from hunter-gatherer societies to an agrarian way of life has dramatically changed the course of human history and irreversibly changed the circulation of natural nutrients in soils.  When people sowed the seeds of the first crops at the dawn of the Neolithic, the soil provided the necessary nutrients for plants and served as the basis for human agriculture.

  Agriculture changes the natural cycle of nutrients in the soil.  Intensive cultivation and harvesting for human or animal consumption can effectively extract soil from plant nutrients.  In order to maintain soil fertility for a sufficient crop yield, soil changes are usually required.  The first humans soon learned to change their fields with animal manure, charcoal, ash, and lime (CaCO3) to improve soil fertility.

 Today, farmers make numerous changes to the soil to increase soil fertility, including inorganic chemical fertilizers and organic sources of nutrients such as manure or compost, which often leads to an excess of primary macronutrients.  The efficiency of fertilizer application and crop use is not always optimized, and excess nutrients, especially N and P, can be transported through surface runoff or leaching from agricultural fields and contaminate surface and groundwater.

Various types of farming soil

  Although the soil is often referred to as a “fertile substrate”, not all soils are suitable for growing crops.  Ideal soils for agriculture are balanced in terms of mineral components (sand: 0.05–2 mm, silt: 0.002–0.05 mm, clay: <0.002 mm), soil organic matter (SOM), air and water. 

The balanced contribution of these components allows you to retain and drain water, oxygen in the root zone, nutrients to facilitate crop growth; and they provide physical support to plants.  The distribution of these soil components in a given soil is influenced by five factors of soil formation: parent material, time, climate, organisms, and topography.  Each of these factors plays a direct and contradictory role in influencing the suitability of the soil for agriculture.

ALSO CHECK: How to take care of your soil as a farmer

  Inorganic soil components

  As expected, contributions from each mineral fraction help to create a physical framework for productive soil.  Loam textured soils are usually described as medium-structured with functionally equal contributions of sand, silt and clay.  These medium-textured soils are often considered ideal for agriculture because they are easily cultivated by farmers and can be highly productive for crop growth.

  Soil mineral components can exist as discrete particles, but are more often associated with each other in larger aggregates that provide soil structure.  These units, or soles, play an important role in influencing the movement of water and air through the soil.

 Sandy soils have large pore spaces and increase water drainage, but do not provide the soil with a large amount of nutrients.  On the other hand, soils rich in clay increase the ability to retain water and provide many essential nutrients for plants.  The total soil fertility index is obtained by measuring the cation exchange capacity (CEC).  CEC is an indicator of the ability of the soil to exchange positive ions between soil particles and the solution surrounding these particles.

  Soil pH

  Often referred to as the main soil variable, pH controls a wide range of physical, chemical and biological processes and properties that affect soil fertility and plant growth.  Soil pH, which reflects the level of acidity in the soil, significantly affects the availability of plant nutrients, microbial activity and even the stability of soil aggregates. 

At low pH the main macronutrients of plants (ie N, P, K, Ca, Mg and S) are less bioavailable than at higher pH values ​​around 7, and some trace elements (ie Fe, Mn, Zn), as a rule, become larger  soluble and potentially toxic to plants at low pH values ​​(5–6).  Aluminum toxicity is also a common problem for crop growth at low pH (<5.5).

 As a rule, soil pH values ​​from 6 to 7.5 are optimal for plant growth; however, there are certain plant species that can tolerate – or even prefer – more acidic or basic conditions.  Maintaining a narrow range of soil pH is beneficial for crop growth.  Catfish and clay minerals help to buffer soils to maintain an optimal pH range for plant growth (Havlin et al. 2005).  In cases where the pH is outside the desired range, the soil pH can be changed with adjustments such as lime to increase the pH.  Ammonium sulfate, ferrous sulfate or elemental sulfur can be added to the soil to lower the pH.

  Soil degradation

  Soil forms from fresh parent material through various chemical and physical weathering processes, and CATFISH enters the soil by decomposing plant residues and other biomass.  Although these natural soil building processes regenerate the soil, the rate of soil formation is very slow.  For this reason, soil should be considered a non-renewable resource that should be carefully preserved for future generations. 

The rate of soil formation is difficult to determine and varies greatly based on five factors of soil formation.  Scientists have calculated that natural soil formation processes produce from 0.025 to 0.125 mm of soil annually.  After the time required to create new soil, it is necessary to use best management practices (BMP) in agricultural practice to prevent soil erosion.

 Initially, eroded soil is usually a surface layer enriched with organic and nutrients, which is extremely useful for plant growth.  Thus, the primary result on site is a reduction in crop yields, as only less fertile subsoil remains.  Soil erosion also contaminates nearby streams and waterways with sediment, nutrients and agrochemicals, creating serious consequences off-site.

  Sustainable soil management

  It is clear that in order to support and increase food production, efforts to prevent soil degradation must become a top priority of our global society.  If the misuse of soil resources continues to reduce soil fertility and the amount of productive arable land, we will lose a valuable and important pillar of sustainable agriculture.  Sustainable agriculture is an approach to agriculture that focuses on food production in a way that can be maintained with minimal degradation of ecosystems and natural resources.

 This sustainable approach to agriculture seeks to protect environmental resources, including soils, and ensure economic viability while maintaining social justice.  The concept of sustainable agriculture is often misinterpreted as meaning that chemical fertilizers and pesticides should never be used. 

This notion is incorrect, as sustainable agriculture should cover those practices that provide the most profitable services for agroecosystems and encourage long-term food production in the cultural context of the region.  It should not be overemphasized that sustainable practices should not only take into account crop production and profits, but also include land management strategies that reduce soil erosion and protect water resources.  By adopting certain modern technologies, tested by BMP and learning from the past, our society will be able to continue to store soil resources and produce food stocks sufficient to meet current and future needs of the population.

  Descriptions of a texture class for soil

  An easy way to determine soil structure and its characteristics is to texture it manually.  When texturing the soil, it is important to understand the sense of behavior, color, sound and cohesion of the soil, which is achieved by introducing a bolus (wetting the soil and forming a ball).  For example, the loam only sticks together (slightly bound), and there will be visible grains of sand that can be seen, felt and heard if you apply a bolus to the ear and squeeze it.

  Then it is important to form a bolus tape to determine the clay content in the soil.  The longer the tape, the higher the clay content.  The length of the tape is measured with a ruler and together with the behavior of the soil can be compared with the descriptions in the table of soil texture.  This table will help you assess the structure of the soil.

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