How’s Your Soil IQ?

Soil is a dynamic force in nature and comes in wide varieties that all serve different roles in the ecosystem. It has physical, chemical, and biological properties that work together to create what you see aboveground. Organic matter, gases, liquids, and countless organisms make up every form of soil. Everything from evergreen pines to fungi relies on soil to grow and thrive.

Understanding soil is key to knowing what’s best to grow in it. This starts with different classifications of soil, from sandy loam to clay. Determining which kind of soil you want will depend on what you’re planting.

Get to know your soil

Every kind of soil has specific minerals and acts as a habitat for organisms and has a certain pH level. This foundational material stores water and provides nutrient availability for plants to grow. The soil’s drainage determines what kind of plants can grow aboveground. There are a few terms that are important to know when it comes to soil:

  • Silt: Loose sedimentary material that is carried by water with medium to high water-holding capacity and medium to high organic matter content
  • Clay: Thick, heavy soil that is sticky when wet but hard when dry with high water-holding capacity and medium to high organic matter content
  • Sand: Finely divided rock and mineral particles with low water-holding capacity and low organic matter content
  • Loam: Contains close to equal proportions of sand, silt, and clay

Topsoil is the layer closest to the surface. Deep, rich, fertile topsoil can make the difference when it comes to planting flowers, trees, and bushes. Having the right mix of organic matter and minerals in your topsoil is critical for growing certain plants. That’s because topsoil provides nutrients that all plants need to survive. Loam is best for topsoil because it provides enough water retention while also being nutrient-rich.

Composting is a way to naturally enhance your soil, making it rich with nutrients and healthy for plants. This is form of organic recycling creates rich fertilizer that’s environmentally friendly while also being good for your garden.

If you want to learn more about how soil is the basis for all forms of life, we’re here to help. Soil Advocates Inc. believes in promoting the latest tools in climate change mitigation, urban green spaces, recreation and conservation. We’re at the cutting edge of everything involving sustainability education and consulting. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with everything from environmental analysis to feasibility studies.

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By |2019-03-19T11:50:32-04:00March 19th, 2019|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

About the Author:

Dr. Leanne J Philip, BSc. (Hon.); MSc.; PhD. is the Managing Director & Chief Scientist of Soil Advocates Inc. She studied at the University of Guelph as an undergraduate (Plant Biology, Environmental Management and Urban Horticulture) and as a graduate student (Plant & Soil Interactions). She has a keen interest in soil sciences, which lead her to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for doctoral studies in soil carbon sequestration and movement within British Columbia’s clear-cut soils. Further work in soil sciences in Europe and Canada reinforced Dr. Philip’s belief that soil processes and mechanisms belowground drive aboveground aesthetics and plant interactions. While active in both research, mentorship and teaching, most recently Dr. Philip has been working in applied soil sciences in industry and community outreach. Dr. Philip is a native of southern Ontario and is a strong advocate for scientific literacy within her community and responsible environmental stewardship.

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