Introduction to soil preparation in agriculture: Soil is the backbone of agriculture. Therefore, it is important to know the soil before farming. Soils are of different types; some are loamy and fertile while some are sandy and infertile. Not all types of soil are suitable for every crop. Crops grown in fertile soil will not necessarily yield, as soil quality preparation is essential for better quality.
The soil is prepared before sowing the seed. The soil is loose to increase water and fertilizer absorption. Loosening of soil particles adds humus and nutrients to the soil which increases crop yields. Soil anchors the roots of a plant to support its water supply, help it breathe, and provide the nutrients it needs to grow. A branch of science that deals with the study of soil and the addictive conditions of food and fiber production is called agricultural soil science. In this article we also covered the below topics about soil preparation in agriculture;
- Soil preparation steps
- Importance of soil preparation
- How to prepare the soil for planting flowers
- Why is soil preparation important?
- What is the preparation of soil?
- Soil management for crop production
- Types of soils that are best for plant growth
- Which soil is best for plant growth?
- Characteristics of soil in agriculture
- What is the best type of soil for agriculture?
- What is a good soil mix for flowers?
A step-by-step guide to soil preparation in agriculture, soil preparation methods, tips, ideas, and techniques
Agricultural soil is soil that is loamy and fertile and is considered because there can be different types of soil and there are many that are not suitable for agricultural purposes. The best soil can be called agricultural soil. As the backbone of agriculture, the soil should be best suited for growing different crops and producing better yields and better-quality plants.
Soil preparation is the first step when we start farming. This usually forces the top layer of soil to loosen. Plants absorb water and nutrients from the soil through their roots, so it is important to prepare the soil so that we can get healthy and full yields. Soil is an important building for growing strong, healthy, and beautiful plants. Determine the soil before you choose it. Read the editing and potting mix labels carefully to make sure you have made the right choice for your plants. One month after planting, feed and water your plants properly.
Importance of soil for plant growth
Soil is the basis on which various plants such as shrubs, grasses, vegetables, fruits, and trees, etc., grow. Soil not only keeps plants firmly on the ground but also provides all the nutrients necessary for plants to grow and thrive. Plant health is directly related to soil quality. Therefore, it is very important to choose the right type of soil for the plants you want to grow.
What is the soil profile?
Soil formation is a combination of physical, chemical, and biological processes under certain environmental conditions. These include elements such as microorganisms, insects, minerals, decaying organic matter, humus, water, and air that make the soil fertile and a source of nutrients. There are three main types of soil: sandy, clay, and loamy soil. The characteristics of ideal soil can be given below;
- Good water holding capacity
- Proper aeration
- Good consistency (texture)
- Balanced acid and alkaline content
- Rich in nutrients (micro and macronutrients)
Soil formation takes place through a variety of processes, including weathering rocks and mixing rock materials with organic debris that results from plant destruction. The other process is a slow chemical alteration of water that passes through the weathered rock material after rain. Weathering is the process by which rocks break down into small particles that eventually form soil, including geological sediments and organic debris.
The combined action of physical, chemical, and biological factors, including adverse weather conditions on rocks, leads to soil formation. It can be said that soil is a mixture of biotic and abiotic ingredients. It contains a wide range of materials like insects, minerals, decaying organic matter, microorganisms, humus, water, and air. Together they make the soil fertile, suitable for plant or agricultural growth.
Soil management for crop production
Soil preparation is the first step in ensuring that the field is ready for harvest. Initial land preparation for autumn sowing begins after the previous crop is harvested and continues until the next crop is sown or planted, which is important for effective weed control and soil enrichment with organic compounds. Soil tillage is generally divided into primary and auxiliary farming. If the previous crop is grain, the basic cultivation begins with very shallow plowing, otherwise, it starts with shallow plowing to a depth of 20 cm. The purpose of basic tillage is to bring the soil into a standard structure and to sow seeds to the depth of sowing in the surface layer. The goal is to create ideal conditions for the germination of small and sensitive plants.
Soil preparation before sowing produces seed for the best conditions for seed germination and easy germination of young plants. The soil is then plowed to form a small soil structure, in which a collection of fine soil is left on the ground to prevent the formation of a crust, and a large amount of loose soil is left around the seed and the capillary movement of water is established. Fine seeds, machinery requirements for soil preparation are high. The effect of seed bed-making machines on the final product is very high. High yields are obtained under no pressure conditions, and standard germination and early seed development result in strong plant resistance which is later resisted by obstacles due to climatic conditions.
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Like tillage, fertilizer is divided into basic and supplementary. Immediately after plowing, NPK fertilizer enters the soil, whether it is plant, animal, or mineral, depending on the type of product, with high levels of phosphorus and potassium. The amount of fertilizer should be sufficient to meet the amount of fertilizer that the previous crop has extracted from the soil and to meet the needs of the crop to be grown. To determine the correct amount of fertilizer, it is necessary to chemically analyze the soil, so that the exact nutritional status of the soil can be observed. Before sowing or planting the crop, NP fertilizers are introduced with a nutrient ratio of 1: 1: 1, which can be combined with pure nitrogen fertilizers, especially if after a long dry period.
The whole process of preparing the soil for sowing or planting depends on the farmers’ abilities and climatic conditions and is an important part of farm production. To avoid mistakes from the beginning, it is very important to know the process of the farm, which provides you with an agricultural farm system. For more than 100 different crops, for each type of crop, the system guides you on how to best prepare the soil for sowing or planting and shows you all the activities you can do in the field. Although the soil has never been cultivated, the system allows you to handle the entire farm production, from tracking tasks, used materials, inventory, finances, and reports to producing the entire farm up to productivity and profit analysis.
Tips to choose the best soil for your plants
Here are some ways you can choose the best soil for your plants;
1. Depending on the plant – Depending on the plant the type of soil can be selected. For example, if you are planning to plant a vegetable garden, the soil you choose must be moist and loose, which will give the roots elasticity so that they can spread and grow and get maximum nutrients from the soil.
2. According to the quality – Make sure you pay attention to the quality of the soil. Too much clay or sandy soil may not be ideal for plant growth. It is just the ideal soil mixture for better plant growth. Make sure you identify the soil in your garden and then change it according to the type of plant you want to grow.
3. Soil composition – Soil is made up of decomposing rock particles, air, water, living organisms, and organic matter from decomposing plants and animals. Each of these components differs in quantity and properties, but all five are essential for healthy soil.
4. Soil texture and type – Soil type is generally classified by the size of the broken-down rock particles in the soil. A large particle of sand is the size of a medium particle of dirt, and a particle of clay is very fine. The ratio of sand, soil, and soil particles determines the composition of your soil and affects the availability of drainage and nutrients.
5. Soil water holding capacity – Sandy soils have large particles and the ability to hold very little water – water escapes through them quickly. Soil is capable of holding very fine particles and a lot of water. It is important to know this because it tells you how much and how often you will need to water your plants. Soil structure is determined by how individual soil particles accumulate. A good soil structure allows water, oxygen, and microorganisms to enter the soil and as a result, increase the number of nutrients available to plants. The structure can be greatly affected by management. Constantly adding compost to the soil will improve its texture, increase its water holding capacity and make it easier to operate in the long run.
6. Soil testing – A professional soil test provides a wealth of information about your soil, including its type, pH level (relative acidity), and nutrient level. If you are starting a new garden and have concerns about potential soil toxins in your area, such as lead, a soil test that screens common environmental toxins are a good idea.
7. Based on the place of planting – The selected soil for your plants will also depend on where you plan to grow the plants. For example, plants with large pots in your yard or large pots require more nutritious soil than plants planted in your lawn. Potting soil contains special ingredients that prevent water or excess water in the plants. Make sure you invest in good quality soil as sometimes cheap alternatives do not provide enough nutrients to the soil.
8. Soil Preparation – Once you have narrowed down the soil to suit the needs of the plants, another important step in the process is to prepare the soil. You must determine the type of soil that is available so that you can make the necessary changes by adding organic matter and other additives to make it ideal for growing a variety of plants.
Determining soil pH and soil type
Soil pH level reflects its acidity and is measured on a scale of 0 (most acidic) to 14 (mostly alkaline soils). Most plants grow best in soil pH levels 6 and 7. Before editing the soil, quickly test your native soil using a simple pH test kit. This will help you decide whether to increase the pH with lime or lower the sulfur. Depending on where you live, your soil may be sandy or overgrown. A “feel test” can identify the type of soil that is most prominent in your yard.
Moisten a tablespoon of clay and roll it into a small ball. If you can make a 2-to-3-inch ribbon from the clay of your ball, then the clay content in your clay is very high. If the ribbon breaks or feels sharp, you have a mixture of dirt and sand. If the soil ball feels a little greasy and no matter how much water you add, don’t put it together, it’s sandy soil. In addition to lime-rich chalky soils, types such as clay soils, loamy soils, and wet soils are defined by their acidity and the ratio of sand, soil, and silt.
Soil preparation methods
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No soil is ideal, so it is important to prepare the soil before and after planting. Continuous farming can deplete soil fertility. To replenish the soil content, it is prepared before sowing the seeds. In agriculture, there are three stages of soil preparation by ploughing, leveling, and manuring.
The following steps have been taken which are the methods of preparation of agricultural soil.
1. Ploughing – This stage involves loosening and digging the soil. While plowing, we can loosen the soil and carry the soil’s rich nutrients to the surface. It also increases soil air which improves air circulation and better root health. Other benefits of plowing include weed removal, manure integration, and the prevention of infectious pathogens and pests. Among the tools used for plowing, wooden or iron plows and hoes are also used to uproot weeds and break the soil.
It is necessary to ploughing the soil for the following reasons;
- Allows plant roots to penetrate deep into the soil.
- It strengthens the plant. Loose soil also provides better ventilation to the roots so that they can breathe more easily.
- It helps in the growth of microbes and insects, which work in digestion and add nutrients and humus to the soil.
- Plowing also removes bushes and other wastes from the field.
- It raises nutrient-rich soil, which helps plants grow.
The tools we use to plow are;
Plough – This is the oldest plowing tool. The plow can be made of wood or metal such as iron. In front of it is a blade or stick used to cut mud. Plows are traditionally pulled by cattle, but tractors are used in modern times. Plow to the soil, add manure and compost and scrape the soil.
Hoe – The hoe is also an ancient agricultural tool. We use it to the ground, weed out and dig the soil. They usually have a long wooden stick with an iron plate at one end. The other end can be attached to an animal. The hoe was used for tailing in ancient times, but these days it is only used to remove weeds.
Cultivator – This is the modern method we currently use to plow our farms. This includes using a tractor to drive the farmer. They dig and dig the soil. Farmers also kill weeds and dig up unwanted vegetation. Cultivator may be more expensive than traditional methods, but it saves a lot of time and labor.
2. Levelling – To equalize helps to level the surface and level the soil after plowing. A wooden or iron board is used for this. Leveling also helps distribute water without logging during irrigation. This stage of soil preparation is done after plowing in agricultural fields and it helps in distributing and leveling the soil evenly. This is done with the help of a wooden or iron board. This process helps in the uniform distribution of water by irrigating the fields. Once the field is shaken, the topsoil is quite loose. There is a strong possibility that strong winds or rain will wash away the soil above. The soil then needs to be re-leveled to ensure its strong foundation. This leveling of the soil is done with an implementation called a leveler, which is a heavy wooden or iron board. Leveling the field also helps in the uniform distribution of water during irrigation. This is the final stage of soil preparation.
3. Manuring – After plowing and leveling, the fertilizer is applied to further stages of cultivation. Fertilizer is used to replenish the soil with nutrients and thus helps in the proper growth of the crop. Soil preparation provides the field of agriculture which is fertile with ideal soil and prepares it for cultivation. Manuring and removing weeds at regular intervals and frequencies helps farmers to produce better yields. Plowing, leveling, and sowing are the basic steps in preparing the soil.
Manuring is the stage of soil preparation after plowing and fertilizing. It helps to fill the soil with rich nutrients. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are considered important nutrients and ensure that they are added to the soil to increase yields. In addition, many other nutrients and organic fertilizers are provided through fertilizers. Regular addition of compost and other fertilizers helps to improve soil structure, soil moisture retention, soil aeration, and water infiltration. To increase soil fertility, we fertilize the soil before we start sowing the seeds. We fertilize the field before plowing, so it is properly incorporated into the soil.
Preparing the soil for vegetables
Preparing the soil for growing vegetables involves many of the routine tasks required for other crops. Good drainage is important for early vegetables. Sand is valuable in growing early vegetables because it is more easily extracted from heavy soils. Drainage of soil obtained through ditches or tiles is more desirable than drainage because crops are obtained by planting because the former not only removes excess water but also allows air to enter the soil. Air is essential for the growth of crop plants and for some useful soil organisms that provide nutrients to plants. You can grow some crops in the soil and some crops in the sand. But most crops thrive in rich, dilapidated wet soil (for example, earthworms and microbes). Modifying the soil with compost, and other soil makers such as chopped leaves is a way to gradually build productive soil.
When crops are grown in succession, the soil rarely needs to be plowed more than once a year. Plowing includes soil sod, green manure crops, and crop residues. Destroys weeds and pests and improves soil texture and air quality. The soil should be deep enough for vegetables. A depth of six to eight inches (15 to 20 cm) is sufficient in most soils. Soil management involves the exercise of human judgment in the use of available knowledge of crop production, soil conservation, and economics. Management should be directed towards producing the desired crops with minimum effort.
Controlling soil erosion, caring for soil organic matter, adapting crop rotation, and a clean culture are considered important methods of soil management. Soil erosion, caused by water and wind, is a problem in many vegetable-growing areas because the topsoil is generally the richest in fertility and organic matter.
It is important to take care of the soil’s organic matter. Organic matter is a source of plant nutrients and is valuable for its effect on certain soil properties. Organic matter loss is the result of the action of microorganisms that slowly dissolve it into carbon dioxide. Manure supplementation and soil improvement crops are effective sources of soil organic matter. Soil-enhancing crops are grown only to prepare the soil for the development of successful crops. Green manure crops, especially those grown for soil improvement, are submerged, while they are usually grown as vegetable crops in the same season of the year.
Crops grown for both soil conservation and improvement are grown only in seasons when vegetable crops do not occupy the land. When the soil-improving crop is submerged, the various nutrients that have contributed to crop growth return to the soil, including the amount of organic matter. Both legumes, plants such as peas and beans in which fruits and seeds are made into beans, and non-lime are soil-improving crops. Legumes, however, are more valuable, as they contain nitrogen as well as humus. The rate of flowering of plant material depends on the type of crop, its stage of development, and the temperature and humidity of the soil. The more succulent the material when it comes down, the faster it decomposes. Because dry material decomposes more slowly than green matter, they must move under soil-enhancing crops before they mature, unless there is enough time between plowing and planting a successful crop. Plant material decomposes rapidly when the soil is warm and supplied with moisture. If the soil under the soil-improving crop is dry, there will be little or no decomposition until rain or irrigation provides the necessary moisture.
Soil fertility is the capacity of the soil to provide the nutrients needed for a good crop, and fertilizer is the addition of nutrients to the soil. Chemical fertilizers can be used to supply essential nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Chemical tests of soil, plants, or both are used to determine fertilizer requirements, and utilization rates are usually based on soil fertility, farming systems, type of vegetables, and financial profitability that might be expected from the crop. Fertilizer application methods include scattering before planting and mixing with soil. Application with a drill under the soil surface at the time of planting Row application before or before planting and application of row during plant growth also called side dressing. Plowed-down broadcast fertilizers have recently been used in combination with high-analysis liquid fertilizers used during planting or as a side-dressed band. Mechanical planting equipment can use fertilizer attachments to apply fertilizer in the form of bands near the seeds. For most vegetables, the bands are placed two to three inches (five to 7.5 cm) from the seed, either at the same depth or slightly below the seed.
The best soil for vegetables – The best soil for a vegetable garden depends on the type of garden you have. For a high bed garden, you need a 50/50 ratio of compost and topsoil. Clay soil will need to be modified to ensure that the water drains properly. You can amend using gypsum, vermiculite, or expanded shell.
How to prepare the soil for planting flowers
Healthy soil is the basis of healthy plants. Good soil provides the right space between its particles for plants to use. Silty and heavy clay soils have small particles that are close to each other. There is very little air in these dense soils. The problem with sandy soils is that their particles are very large and at a distance. Excess air in sandy soils causes rapid dissolution of organic matter. Rich, well-drained loam or sandy loam soils work well for growing flowers. Combine soil with organic amendments, such as compost, ground pine bark, or peat moss, to improve soil moisture retention capacity and so will air pockets. Flowers benefit from soils that contain organic matter such as peat moss to allow proper drainage. Adding compost to the soil can help make up for any deficiencies in the native soil. Light soil allows flower roots to grow, spread and anchor. Be sure to research the specific needs of your flower types.
The best soil for flowers – The best soil to use for flowers depends on the type of flower, such as the bulb vs seed, and where you grow it. For example, flower bulbs will grow in sandy loam soil.
Sandy loam soil provides excellent drainage to prevent bulbs from rotting and roots can grow easily. The texture of potting soil is best when planting flowers in containers, such as window boxes or flower pots. For a flower garden, you can use a mixture of compost, peat, and topsoil as a general mixture with a 1: 1: 1 ratio.
Commonly asked questions about soil preparation in agriculture
What should add to my soil before planting?
Adding organic matter in the form of compost and aged manure, or by using mulch or growing cover crops or green manures, is the best method to prepare the soil for planting. Adding chemical fertilizers will only replenish some of the nutrients and will do nothing to maintain good, well-drained soil.
What type of soil is best for flowers?
The best soil for flower bulbs is sandy loam soil. It can be considered a balanced mixture of soil, sand, silt, and organic matter. Sandy looms are usually around a neutral pH and provide good drainage, root permeability, and adequate nutrition.
Is potting soil good for flowers?
It is commonly described as the soil used in gardening to help plants and flowers retain nutrients and water. Potting soil is also used to prevent compaction, which can prevent plants from filtering out carbon dioxide and other toxic gases that can kill roots.
What are the main stages of soil preparation?
Plowing, leveling, and sowing are the basic steps in soil preparation.
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