A less well-known technique for improving soil fertility is planting several crops on a single field in an effort to prevent erosion of soils and to control the spread of soil-borne plant diseases. To enhance soil fertility in a more direct manner, as well as to benefit individual plants, you may also want to consider using liquid fertilizer. These can rapidly replace some of the nutrients that are missing from soil, as well as address nutrient deficiencies in plants.
This is how commercial fertilizers do more than just provide nutrients for crops, they increase soil organic matter to enhance the soil. The nutrients in the plant fertilizer are the same nutrients that are obtained from the soil, as well as from the organic matter by soil organisms. The correct type and quantity of commercial fertilizer, used correctly, will enhance the growth of plants in most soils — including the root growth and clumping, which promotes soil organic matter.
Fertilizers and manures are added to get things right, but also to enhance plant growth in soils already pretty well supplied with the basic nutrients. Good-quality crops, in turn, leave increased plant residues in the soil, improving the structure and providing food for soil organisms. Another critical part in maintaining the soil health and fertility over time for annual growing areas is using green manure and cover crops.
These not only will maintain soil cover and protection, they also, if chopped up and dropped, will increase fertility and improve your gardens soil texture. Just as farmers turn to manure for a boost in the soil, so too can they cut down and spread the leaves from cover crops, which are left behind as an organic green manure. Cover crops can supply organic matter and nutrients, enhance drainage and aeration, attract beneficial soil organisms, and serve as overwintering mulch.
You can add more organic matter to the soil by adding compost, aging animal manure, green manure (cover crops), mulch, or peat moss. Adding organic matter to clay soils will help to improve the texture, which allows soil to drainage better and makes root growth easier. No matter what your soils texture, all soils can be improved over time with some steps, INCLUDING the addition of organic matter.
Adding organic material, like compost, into sandy soil helps to fill the spaces between the particles of sand, thus improving the ability of your soil to hold water and nutrients. Adding mulch is probably the single most important method of improving the soil quality and maintaining fertility over time in a non-digging organic garden. The reasons to apply mulches are soil moisture preservation, improved fertility and health of soil, reduced weed growth, and increased visual attractiveness of an area.
Manure that is composted provides nutrients right away, favoring increased soil fertility, but it is crucial that you avoid spreading certain disease-causing agents by using home-made manure. The use of fertilizer removes microorganisms from soil, which aerate and supply nutrients. To start, you need to add manure to give you nitrogen, a needed ingredient for productive soil.
The amount of nutrients available to plants depends on when manure is applied in a given year, and on how rapidly it is worked into the soil. Existing soil conditions also influence the rate at which nutrients are available from the manure. On average, a swine manure has about 10-15 pounds of N, 5-10 pounds of P, and 10-12 pounds of K per ton.
Farmers tend to apply soil amendments (synthetic or organic) rich in nutrients, that is, N, P, and K, in order to improve soil fertility and improve crop yields . Organic methods, such as crop rotation, slash-and-burn, no-till agriculture, planting cover crops, using manure, controlling weeds, and so on, are some of the organic measures used for maintaining soil fertility. No-till and minimal-till methods of planting are helpful, particularly if used in conjunction with biofertilizers and biodynamic preparations, which nourish the soils food web and replaces the need for heavy chemicals.