Healthy Soils - Basics
6 (+1) fun questions to test your basic soil knowledge
Soil is the loosely arranged mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the Earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants. (From USDA. Want more? See definition of soil)
Is my soil healthy?
Currently, there are no agreed criteria for what makes a “healthy” soil. Rather, (virtually) every soil will benefit as we increase soil organic matter (SOM), enhance aggregation and soil aeration. As SOM increases we will likely get healthier soil microflora (good bacteria, fungi and microbes) and fauna (especially worms).
Healthy soils - an overview? Web (USDA)
Glossary of soil terms Web (USDA)
Is my soil stable?
Soil stability test video (NRCS) (1:13)
A healthy Soil will
What about potting soil versus garden soil?
Potting soil refers to a manufactured product; consisting of variable amounts of materials such as peat, composted bark, sand, perlite or recycled mushroom compost - although many other ingredients can be used and the proportions vary hugely. Many mixes have their pH adjusted and some may contain small amounts of fertilizer. Despite the name, little or no actual soil is used in potting soil - in large part as it is considered too heavy (or dense) for growing many houseplants
Take an on-line soils course
Healthy Soils (UC SAREP & San Luis Obispo)
What is a healthy soil (SAREP)
Visit Soil Doctor (Bell): practical tips to help diagnose, build and protect your soil.
Increased Soil Organic Matter (SOM) can bring lots of benefits to soils including enhanced nutrient and water retention, enhanced micronutrient availability, better soil structure, increased moisture infiltration and increased microbial activities, etc.. We quantify below some of the more widely cited (and sometimes mis-cited) approximations.
Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC)
Water holding capacity
What's the but?
Challenges and reality of increasing SOM (paper - Penn State)
Soil web (T O’Geen)
A remarkable map resource showing soil types throughout California with detailed information on soil characteristics and potential uses.
|How do I sample my soil?||How do I sample and monitor my soil? (where to find a lab, how to sample soils, how to interpret a soils test) See SAREP web
Soil sampling Fact sheet (D. Geisseler & W.R. Horwath)
Things to consider in sampling
Soil contaminants and when to check for them Fact Sheet
Checking for contaminants for urban Ag Fact sheet
Sampling Orchard soils (Doll & Sanden)
Video 1: FAQs: Sampling orchards: Who, Where and When (4:46)
Video 2: Soil Sampling Equipment (5:21)
Video 3: Taking Samples in the Orchard (6:55)
Video 4: Preparing your Samples for the Lab (3:35)
Soil sampling for nitrate
Sampling for nitrate Fact sheet (D. Geisseler & W.R. Horwath)
Soil nitrate quick test (Agronomy RIC)
Quick Field Test Video (Mathesius et al)
Soil sampling for pests and diseases
See UC Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) Find the specific disease and look for “field evaluation”
|Where can I send my soil sample for analysis?||
(list from CDFA + UCMG) (Since laboratory services change, please use this as a possible list - not complete.)
|What do my soil test results mean?||
(UC ANR Small farms)