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Jared Regier

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of Soil

Workshop Outline

Purpose of Soil
Soil Composition
Physical Properties
Chemical Properties
Biological Properties
Soil Care and Amendments
Purpose of Soil

provide physical support
allow the transfer of air
hold and drain water
supply nutrients
habitat for microorganisms

Soil Composition

Physical Properties

texture: the percentage of sand, silt, and clay particles in the soil
structure: the way in which the soil particles are assembled
soil testing
Chemical Properties

cation exchange capacity
soil testing
Biological Properties

soil is a diverse habitat
soil organisms interact with both physical and chemical components of soil (tunneling, nitrogen fixing)
maintaining diversity in organisms helps manage pests and disease
soil habitat is affected by management practices (walking, tilling, mulching)
needs: air, water, organic matter
if you build it, they will come

Soil Care and

add organic matter
minimize compaction
avoid tilling
mulch heavily (leaves, hay, compost)
maintain diversity of life
cover crops,
compost tea
maintain adequate moisture
replace nitrogen
The End

Workshop Feedback


sand, silt, and clay
soil texture triangle
jar test

aggregates: clumps of soil particles
pores: air spaces

grade: degree of aggregation
class: average size of aggregates
type: shape of aggregates (granular, crumb, blocky, prismatic, platy)
Soil Testing

soil texture
feel, ball , and ribbon
jar test

soil structure
block extraction and examination

potassium (K)
important for root growth
improves taste of fruit
phosphorus (P)
helps plant mature to produce fruit and quality seed
improves disease resistance
nitrogen (N)
important for leaf growth
excess nitrogen delays ripening

These nutrients are needed by plants only in very small quantities.

Examples: boron, copper, iron, chloride, manganese, molybdenum, zinc

Plant needs are easily meet by maintaining adequate organic matter, good soil structure and moisture.

pH is the measure of acidity
a pH less than 7 is acidic
a pH greater than 7 is basic
ideal range is 5.5 to 7.5

very difficult to change pH
best to choose appropriate plants
if you must try
If soil is too acidic, add a base such as lime, wood ashes

If soil is too basic, add an acidic things such as oak leaves, coffee grounds, pine needles.
Cation Exchange
Capacity (CEC)

CEC is the number of cations a soil is capable of holding
A cation is a positively charged particle
most nutrients are cations
humus and clay particles are negatively charged
cations stick to negative charges
more humus = more nutrients available
Soil Testing

Nitrogen Sources

long term sources
plant nitrogen fixing crops
clover, peas, beans,

short term sources
blood meal
worm castings
alfalfa pellets

worm count
dig up a block of soil 1 ft x 1 ft x 1 ft
count worms, more than 10 is good
mulch observations
peel back the mulch and observe the layers from the surface to the soil
ideally, it will be difficult to tell where the mulch stops and soil begins
cotton strip test
make a slice in your soil, insert a cotton strip, close the crack
return in 3 to 5 weeks, wash off the cotton and observe the level of decomposition
Full transcript