Have you ever asked the question, “what makes one soil different from another?”
If you enjoy working in your flower garden, growing vegetables, farming, or caring for your lawn, you’ve probably wondered about the kinds of soil in your area. You might also be curious about how minerals and organic matter can affect vegetation and plant roots.
We’d like to help answer some of these questions by discussing how one soil can differ from another, explain how you can determine the type of soil in your region, and help you make your soil more fertile. Keep reading for more information!
How Does One Soil Type Differ From Another?
There are many factors that can influence the properties of soil and change its composition:
- Climate: an area’s precipitation and average temperatures can play a major role in dissolving salts and minerals which can change the profile of soil; climate also affects the types of animals and organisms that live in/around the soil
- Animals and Organisms: the animals, insects, and microorganisms that live in/and around soil will leave fecal droppings that provide nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Eventually, these animals and organisms die and decompose, leaving behind only nutrients and a lower pH level. Decomposing material in the soil is called humus and can change the color of the soil. The types of animals, their droppings, and the amount of humus can all affect the overall composition of soil
- Parent materials: these materials are what soil develops from and come from sandstone, siltstone, shale, or limestone. Physical weathering will affect the particle size, whereas chemical weathering will affect the mineral composition. Soil color, nutrients, and acidity are also affected by parent materials and how they’re weathered
- Time: any soil will take time to form, with older soils being deeper and less fertile than younger soils. Over the course of time, soil can be transported by gravity, water, wind, and glaciers, with each method of transport having an effect on the physical size and shape of soil particles
- Topography: the slope of different areas, their exposure to water and drainage, as well as the direction they face will affect the color and the depth of soil
Soils with different properties such as mineral compositions, parent rock, method of transport, and weathering can be used to grow different crops because of their pH levels, minerals, and nutrients.
Learning About the Soil in Your Area
In order to learn about the soil in your area, you will likely want to reference a soil map which is the end result of a soil survey. Soil surveys are the process of categorizing different soil types based on samples collected within a certain area.
A soil map will help you learn about the local soil’s physical properties, exact locations, ages, as well as any of their potential use for gardening, farming, and other industries like healthcare, pottery, medicine, and cosmetics.
Amending Your Soil to Improve Growth Potential
Using a soil map is helpful and can supply you with pertinent information about the soil in your area of interest. Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily tell you which amendments should be made to your soil to improve the overall quality.
When this is the case and you’d like to improve the health and growth potential of your garden’s topsoil or farm’s loam, you will likely want to take several soil samples. Soil samples can help you assess the nutrients, minerals, parent materials, and organic matter that your soil contains.
Suggestions for soil amendments can be made based on the results of your samples, what your ideal crops include, and the longevity you wish to achieve, You can choose to address any drainage or water retention concerns, improve aeration, or change the permeability of the soil.
When amending your soil, you will want to be sure that the mix you choose to add is the right fit for your goals. In order for this to happen, your soil amendment should be purchased from a trusted retailer who can certify that your purchase is ideal for your soil’s needs.
While it may be easy to buy your soil amendments from big box stores, this isn’t always the best idea – purchasing through a retailer such as Sequoia Soil will ensure that your soil is fresh and that you receive the proper benefits.
If you’d like to find out more about our soils or soil amendments, use our contact form to send us a message – we look forward to hearing from you!