Soil is a bit of an unsung hero here on Earth. Without soil, we simply couldn’t exist. It’s as essential as the water we drink and the air we breathe. In fact, without it, we wouldn’t even have breathable air or drinkable water. Soil supports all life on Earth by giving us plants and, by extension, food, fuel and oxygen. What exactly is in our soil, why do we need to it be in optimum health, and what minerals are essential for this?
The story of soil
Soil is made up of organic matter, liquids, gases, minerals and organisms. Together they make up this black stuff we call ‘earth’ or ‘soil’. Soil makes up one of the Earth’s top layers, the pedosphere. Among the things that make up soil, minerals play a key part. The better the ratio of minerals, the healthier the soil and thus, the healthier the crop. In the future, sustainable agriculture will be key to our survival, making healthy soil more important than ever.
The Big Four Minerals
Calcium is absolutely essential for plant growth, and farmers often add soluble calcium to ensure that their soil has good levels.
Phosphorus is essential for providing plants with energy. A soil with a good level of phosphorus is more likely to yield a bigger crop. Phosphorus levels should ideally be above 0.2%, but its efficacy is dependent on the existence of other soil elements such as mycorrizhae, which aids phosphorus uptake in plants.
Magnesium is essential for plants in order to photosynthesize, but too much in the soil is not good. Magnesium and phosphorus also compete for plant takeup, so it’s important to have the right balance.
Boron is essential for calcium uptake. There is little point improving calcium levels if boron levels are not simultaneously increased.
Other steps to healthy soil
It’s not just the minerals we need to worry about; human actions have degraded our soil enormously and added all sorts of pollutants, including building debris and asbestos. A soil remediation service such as those offered by https://soilfix.co.uk/services/soil-groundwater-remediation is a great way to get soil to a healthier state.
Without healthy soil, the populations of this planet simply couldn’t survive. For farmers, however, a healthy yield is also essential for business.