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Soil fertility: theoretical definition and practical advice to transform a sterile soil into a fertile one.
By definition, thefertility, in agriculture, is the ability ofgroundto allow the optimal development of plants for productive purposes; soil fertility is the set of physical, chemical and biological characteristics. We therefore speak of chemical fertility, biological fertility and physical fertility.
- - Physical fertility
It refers to the structure and grain size of the elements that make up theground. Based on these factors we will have a loose or compact ground and again, a groundsandy, silty and clayey. To learn more about the difference in fertility between a sandy, clayey or loamy soil, we refer you to the article dedicated totypes of terrain.
- - Biological fertility
It strictly depends on the organic substance and the presence ofmicroorganismswhich improve the soil from a chemical and structural point of view. The activities carried out by microorganisms in the subsoil (decomposition of the organic substance, mineralization and humidification) are of fundamental importance for thesoil fertility.
- - Chemical fertility
It includes several factors such as thecation exchange capacity, the processes of fixation and retrogradation of the elements and the reaction of the soil (soil pH).
Theresoil fertilitycan be improved by acting on all types of fertility or on a single factor (for example, a digging job can improve the physical properties of a soil as well as measures on the reaction of the soil can decrease or increase the pH of the ground). Three o'clockfertilitydescribed are related to each other, for example: by improving physical fertility and thus improving air circulation in the soil, it has a positive impact on the activity of microorganisms and therefore on biological fertility.
Soil fertility assessment
Theresoil fertility assessmentit can make use of different analyzes that can be performed both in the field and in the laboratory. Laboratory analyzes forevaluate the fertility of a soilthey can be more or less expensive. A toolaccessibleforevaluate soil fertilityit is the so-called "Fertimeter" developed by the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Padua; thefertimetergoes to analyze the microbiological activity of the soil through which it can evaluate the presence of certain nutrients. Microbiological activity is an excellent indicator and can give reliable projections on the alleged productivity of a soil.
Soil fertility, practical advice
After seeing the theoretical concepts that revolve around thesoil fertility, let's move on to agricultural practices. If you have auncultivated landand you want to make itcultivable, you can follow the advice in this paragraph but if the ground is really bad (rich in hard and compact clods, full of weeds, rich in stones, stones or residues of construction activities ...)you will want to carry out some preliminary work. All instructions are available in our help articleHow to make soil fertile.
When it comes tosoil fertilitythere is an irrefutable fact:the better the soil quality, the greater the chance that crops will thrive.To improve thesoil fertilitythere are some jobs that we can do in full autonomy; here's what to do to make a fertile soil:
- - Autumn digging
It serves to improve the ability of the soil to retain and give back water by capillary rising from the deeper layers. Amateur gardeners can proceed with manual soil digging (to learn more:digging of the soil).
- - Correct the structure of a clayey soil
A ground excessivelyclayslows the development of the root system of plants by preventing the absorption of water. When digging or other deep tillage, add peat, mature manure compost or compost. Avoid adding manure in pellets which in these cases helps little.
- - Correct the structure of heavy soil
If the soil is heavily clayey and heavy, add sand as well to improve water drainage.