Step by step to a fertile soil
Soil and fertilisation specialist Marco van Gurp of N-xt Soil Services lists the steps required to arrive at improved soil fertility. The final two steps should always be in service of the first four. A fertile soil is and remains the best basis for a healthy and resistant crop, top quality crops and the best yield.
1. Soil analysis in accordance with the Kinsey-Albrecht method
Considers the exchange capacity of the soil, where the amount of calcium, magnesium and potassium plays an important role.
2. Analysis and expansion of active soil life
What does the soil contain in the way of fungi, nematodes, worms and bacteria. An active soil life produces a proper decomposition of organic matter from fertiliser, compost and crop remnants, improving the availability of minerals and trace elements.
3. Removing any compacted layers in the soil
Many plots have compacted layers that impede soil fertility. In dry times they produce a poor moisture distribution and in wet periods they cause poor drainage. You can use a Penetrometer to measure the layers and a deep subsoiler or aerator to solve the problem.
4. Increase the amount of organic matter
Green fertilisers, manure, compost and crop rotation can be used to restore the levels of organic matter and to stimulate humus conversion.
5. Tweaking the amount of trace elements
The Kinsey-Albrecht reports tells you exactly which trace elements need to be supplemented to have optimum soil processes. It goes without saying that this should be linked to the needs of the crop too.
6. Fertilising in function of crop needs
On the basis of the crop needs, you add nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, magnesium and sulphur. If the soil is in order, you will only need to add minimal amounts.
According to Marco van Gurp it is important that farmers realise that they should buy fertilisers that benefit the soil processes and not just feed the crop. “The right kilo of nitrogen in a soil will produce the best quality vegetable protein, which a cow converts most efficiently into milk protein. This produces a more efficient milk production and it improves animal health too.”