Crops Suitable for Sandy Soil – A Full Guide

Introduction: Well, we are back with a wonderful information of crops suitable for sandy soil. The soil is one of the important resources of our country, as the fertile soil helps us in producing several crops. This serves the food requirements not only within the country but in other parts of the world. While it is not the same at every place on the earth. The types of soil of a place are determined mainly by climate, landscape, and vegetation of that place. Soil also mainly depends on the time of its formation. Waht are we waiting for? Let’s grow crops suitable for sandy soil.

A step by step guide to crops suitable for sandy soil

Sandy soil has more than 60% sand and clay. It contains little clay and silt, so it is porous. The size of soil particles in sandy soil is from 0.2 to 2.0mm. The water building capacity of sandy soil is poor. Thus, there is a lot of air present in this type of soil.

This type of soil is good for the drainage system. Sandy soil is generally formed by the breakdown or fragmentation of rocks like granite, limestone, and quartz. Sandy soil is good for growing vegetables because it has excellent drainage and it warms up well. Unlike clay soil, it doesn’t hold its nutrients, so gardeners should add additional components throughout the season. You can add compost, manure or grass clippings as a start and this can improve your sandy soil. Once you have decided to gorw commercial crops in sandy soils, you must be aware of crops suitable for sandy soil.

A Guide to Sandy Soil Crops.
A Guide to Sandy Soil Crops.

Information about sandy soil

Sandy Soil is light, warm, dry and tends to be acidic and low in nutrients. These soils are often known as light soils due to their high proportion of sand and little clay (clay weighs more than sand). Sandy soils have quick water drainage and are easy to work with. They are quicker to warm up in spring than clay soils but tend to dry out in the summer season and suffer from low nutrients that are washed away by rain. The addition of organic matter can help provide plants an additional boost of nutrients by improving the nutrient and water holding capacity of the soil.

When the percentage of sand is high in a specific soil than it is known as sandy soil. Sandy soil is also called as “Light soil”. Normally, sandy soil is composed of 35% sand and less than 15% silt and clay. Mainly sand is the small pieces of eroded rocks with a gritty texture. In this sandy soil, most of the soil particulars are bigger than 2mm in diameter.

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Some areas of the country have sandy soil, while others contain clay soil. If you live in a desert region or an area that is located near the coast, it is possible that the soil where plants will grow is sandy. This type of soil is not known to be a great choice for most plants because it will not hold water or nutrients for long. This means that the plants in the soil will have a difficult time growing without regular water and fertilizer. In fact, one of the best methods to help increase the growth potential of sandy soil is to mix it with compost. This will help build up the organic matter that is common in soil and help increase the nutrients that are obtainable to your plants.

Another concern with this kind of soil is the potential for erosion to occur because sandy soil is going to be much looser than clay soil. On the other hand, some plants choose this type of well-drained soil, so if you find the right plant, you will be able to have a beautiful garden in no time. In general, some of the plants that will thrive in sandy soil contain cacti, succulents, and similar plants that can live without a lot of outside maintenance and care.

Sandy soil is often called ‘light soils’ because they are relative ‘light’ or simple to work with when it comes to plowing, planting and cultivating. But they are certainly not ‘light’ or easy to manage.  These Sandy soils tend to dry out quickly. However, sandy soils lie on a rocky layer and so can become waterlogged after a lot of rain. In this case, you will need drainage trenches.

Other sandy soils have a clay or loam base, which is discovered when digging holes to determine the soil profile. Such sandy soils can be highly productive as the heavier soil below can trap leached nutrients and hold moisture. Sandy soils have little clay to retain nutrients and so are not fertile.

Uses of sandy soil

Here we discuss the uses of sandy soil;

Agricultural need – Sandy soil is generally dry, nutrient and fast draining. It is mainly used for plowing, planting and cultivating. The useful vegetables such as potatoes, grams, tomatoes, etc require a minimum percentage of soil for a specific period. The percentage could vary from vegetable to vegetable. Sandy soil provides a good ground for farmers to collect falling nuts.

Easy drainage – Sandy soil has great drainage properties and it drains easily. It is used to develop soil drainage. The interesting feature is in a land full of sandy soil, work can be done right after rain even if it is heavy without any difficulty. It filters water in big deposits through water is shred and recollected through the channels at the bottom. Sandy soil retains flower water like soaking the water.

Construction – Sandy soil doesn’t get sticky and it is cohesionless. It has a light and very loose structure. That is why it can be easily used for construction purposes. This soil can be a great aggregate for concrete. And, it can be used as a construction material of mortar aside cement. Sandy soil is used for the erection of exterior rendering materials. It is used because of its chemical resistance and sandy soil also can be used the best as filling sand.

Beauty – Sandy soil starts from the almost sandy surface such as beaches. It will increase the beauty of the beach. Also, it is used in gardening and kid’s playgrounds for safety by providing a soothing context.

Frictional properties – Sandy soil has good frictional properties. The sandy soil frictional properties are used in the construction of reinforced soil structure with geosynthetics reinforcement.

Low settlements – These soils have low settlements as it does not undergo consolidation with time. Also, it has immediate settlements.

Changing pH – The pH of sandy soil can easily change the pH level of soil like clay. The pH level of sandy soil is 7.00 and 8.00. The optimal soil pH for most vegetables and flowers is between 6 and 6.5, with a pH of 7.0 being neutral. Test the pH of soil using a test kit, which you can buy at garden centers or home improvement stores. An advantage of sandy soil is that the pH level is easily changed than in heavier soils, such as clay.

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Physical properties of tropical sandy soils

Sandy soils have a light texture and loose structure, and which cause them to drain quickly and not hold water well. This can lead to low fertility, but with the addition of some compost, manure or leaf mold, sandy soil can develop a satisfactory garden. This kind of soil dries quickly and is easy to work.

Properties of Sandy Soils.
Properties of Sandy Soils.

Sandy soils are considered as soils with physical properties that are easily defined; however, they are far from being simple. Sandy soils are used for the improvement of ground with the use of the soul replacement method. It is used to replace soft clay layers of the foundation to develop the bearing capacity of the soil. One of the most important advantages of sandy soils is low settlements as it does not undergo consolidation with time thus all settlements happen immediately after loading (immediate settlements).

Soil texture

The sizes of the particles that make up soil determine mainly its texture. Sand particles are large and surrounded by air pockets, which gives plenty of open spaces for water to move through. When you pour water onto sandy soil, water doesn’t pool on the surface but soaks right in. This is a real benefit in damp weather but can be a problem during a dry spell. Water drains quickly through sandy soil that it washes away most of the nutrients. Adding organic matter, that are compost, manure, leaf mold or some clay soil, before planting can help increase water retention.

Soil structure

Sandy soil has a loose structure with large pore spaces, which allows for simple movement of roots through the soil. But sandy soil doesn’t hold together well and wants to be amended with organic matter to give it a better structure. The ideal garden soil often described as having “a crumb-like structure,” is formed from a combination of large sand particles, smaller loam or clay particles and organic matter for fertility.

How to improve sandy soils fertility

The best amendment for sandy soils is organic matter and organic matter refers to materials derived from once-living sources. Composted tree bark, wood chips, straw, or leaves, manures, and green-waste are examples of organic matter.

Organic matter that is low in nitrogen, like wood, bark, and straw, wants to be composted first before it can be incorporated into the soil. High nitrogen and previously composted materials could be directly incorporated. Nurseries, garden centers, or composting companies sell various different mixtures of organic matter. You can also create your own compost at home. Compost is used rather than raw organic matter because it generally has more nitrogen and is less likely to tie up minerals or contain toxic materials.

Clay is not a good amendment option for sandy soils because by mixing the wrong proportion of clay and sand, you might make a material similar to low-grade concrete. Any time organic matter or other soil amendments are added to soils, they must be thoroughly mixed in.

Soil infiltration

The infiltration rate is the velocity at which water percolates into the soil and generally decreases the longer water is in contact with the soil. It will reach a relatively steady value that is equal to the permeability or hydraulic conductivity of water through the soil. This variation of infiltration rate with time differs from one kind of soil to another. In the case of sandy soils, the final rate is reached rapidly and usually high.

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Sandy soils have high infiltration rates varying for sandy clay and sandy loam from 4 to 25 cm/h, but in permeable sandy soil values as high as 100 to 400 cm/h are easily reached. High final infiltration rates are responsible for important water losses both in conveyance systems and also in the field. Soils having a final infiltration rate of 10 cm/h and above are usually not recommended for surface irrigation systems. In other words, to keep the conveyance and application efficiencies at an acceptable level the length of the ditches and the size of the fields can be too small for proper cropping.

Management implications for gardening in sandy soils

Sandy soils must be managed differently from other soil textures with higher percentages of clay. Because sand freely drains, it should be irrigated frequently to provide adequate water for plant growth. Water moves rapidly downward through sand and does not spread laterally to a great extent. Since water will not move much laterally, when using a drip irrigation system in sand it is important to position drip emitters directly above the root zone to ensure that plants get water. The water intake rate of sandy soil is 1 to 10 inches per hour and it takes about half an inch of water to recharge a one-foot depth of sandy soil.

Sandy soils must be fertilized more frequently than soil with other textures since nutrients are not retained on sand surfaces around plant roots for long. Adding organic matter will develop both the water-holding and nutrient-retention capacities of sandy soils. Sandy soils could not provide adequate physical support for plants with heavy tops, like trees. Therefore trees need to be staked for the first few growing seasons to prevent them from falling over from wind or heavy snow and ice.

Types of plants grow well in sandy soils

  • As a beginner, you must know plants or crops suitable for sandy soil.
  • Vegetable plants that thrive in sandy soil are Carrots, Radishes, Potatoes, Lettuce, Collard greens, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Corn, Asparagus, Watermelon, Beans, and Cucumber.
  • Herbs that thrive in sandy soil are Thyme, Rosemary, and Oregano.
  • Groundcovers and perennials that thrive in sandy soil are Oregon stonecrop, Moss phlox, Catmint, Lavender, Artemisia, and Sedum.
  • Annuals and bulbs that thrive in sandy soil are Daylilies, salvia, giant allium, and sweet alyssum.
  • Flowering shrubs that thrive in sandy soil are Butterfly bush. Siberian pea-shrub, rose of Sharon, red chokeberry, and flowering quince.
  • Evergreens that thrive in sandy soil are Evergreen spurge, western sword fern.
  • Trees that thrive in sandy soil are Silk (mimosa), black locust, and eucalyptus.

Advantages of sandy soil

Sandy soil has many advantages. It is easy to dig and can be worked earlier in the spring than other soil types and it is not as susceptible to frost heave as clay soils. This is a state where the soil is lifted up when the water inside the soil freezes, and it can push plants out of the ground. With the addition of some organic matter, the light texture and open structure of sandy soil are good for growing several varieties of vegetables and flowers and is well suited to annual root crops, especially potatoes.

That’s all folks about growing crops suitable for sandy soil. Hope enjoyed the article, don’t forget to comment. Happy farming!. You may be interested in Small Vegetable Garden Ideas for Indians.

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