Balanced soil enlarge agriculture fertility

The Cotton professional Dr Sagher Ahmed, a Ph.D scholar and dynamic farmer highlights the discrepancy use of fertilizers that was damaging fertility of soil and resulting low productivity. Soil Health used to be omitted around the country by way of the farmers because of lack of understanding and information about maintaining fertility of the soil. The use of nitrogen and phosphorus have been nonetheless under-dose and some other micro used to be also not noted throughout the preparation of soil.

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Dr Sagher mentioned that hundreds of thousands of other folks have been fond of to cotton and textile sectors adding that farmers were unexpectedly moving their attention on more than a few other crops as a substitute of cash-crop-cotton.

In order to stay focused executive must be sure that quality seed, subsidy on fertilizers, farmer’s education-awareness, and prevent urbanization on fertile land. He added, “Farmers should apply fertilizers with respect to the soil sample reports.”

How To Grow Papaya: Growing Papaya From Seeds

Growing papayas

The fruit of papayas is high in nutrition C. You too can pick out the fruit when it’s inexperienced and cook dinner it like a marrow.

Female and male plants do not grow on the similar tree, so you must have male and female bushes in the garden.

Climate

Papayas develop absolute best in hot areas.

They can tolerate mild frost if they’re protected from cold winds.

Soil requirements

They can grow in maximum kinds of soil, nevertheless it must be smartly drained.

The roots can get sicknesses if the soil stays too rainy.

Loamy soils are highest.

Planting date

Papayas may also be planted at any time of the 12 months, but ideally in past due summer time.

Spacing

Plant papayas 1,five metres between crops and

3 to 4 metres between rows.

Growing papayas from seeds

It is simple to grow the peculiar papaya tree from seed.

Wash the seeds from a ripe papaya.

Squeeze the seeds from the jelly bag that covers every seed. The seeds will handiest develop in case you take away the bag.

Dry them in a shady position.

Store in a tightly closed container and keep them till December.

Plant the seeds in December. Put five seeds to a hole. Do now not put any compost or manure into the holes.

Keep the small vegetation wet.

You can simplest inform which trees are feminine and that are male when the bushes begin to flower. Therefore, you will have to all the time have more than one tree in step with hole, as a result of then you’ll be able to make a choice the feminine bushes.

Female plant life bigger closer to the department than the male flowers

Male plant life very small there are lots of flowers which grow on lengthy branches of the stem.

Only female timber give fruit however they need male plants to pollinate them. Leave 1 male tree for 10 feminine timber.

Planting

Dig a hole about two times the size of the bag in which the young tree is rising.

Remove the soil from the hole and add some compost and manure. Mix this with one of the most soil that has been dug out.Take the plant out of the container. If it is a plastic container you simply cut it open on the aspect.

Do now not disturb the roots.

Place the tree in the centre of the outlet. When you refill the hole hold the tree so that its base is degree with the surrounding ground.

Raise the soil across the tree to block the water (rain or irrigation).

Do no longer plant the tree deeper than it was in the container.

Do not duvet the stem with soil as a result of it will rot.

Water

Papayas want little water.

They will, alternatively, give extra and larger fruit if they are watered every 2 weeks in the dry season. The plant life will drop if they don’t get enough water.

If they are planted in clay soils, be sure that the soil does now not stay too wet.

To keep away from waterlogging in clay soil, make a ridge and plant the papayas at the ridge.

Fertilisation

Compost or manure

Give the tree:

1 bucketful in September,

1 bucketful in November

any other bucketful in January.

Sprinkle a few handfuls of manure evenly around the tree each month from September to the tip of March.

NB: Do not apply chicken manure on timber younger than 2 years as it will possibly burn the young papaya timber.

Artificial fertiliser

Give the bushes 4 tablespoonfuls (115 g) of 2:3:2 in September, November and January.

Sprinkle flippantly around the tree, now not in opposition to the stem.

Keep the timber mulched always (use grass, leaves, and many others).

Do no longer grow other plants subsequent to the trunk as a result of it is quite cushy. If the trunk is broken the papaya tree can get illnesses.

If the fruit presentations humps the tree may be in need of boron. Sprinkle 2 tablespoonfuls of borax across the tree.

Pruning and thinning

You can lower the tree (take away most sensible) so that it does not grow too tall. This encourages branching. Cut into wintry weather wooden, the place leaf scars are shut together. Paint the cut with a sealant.

Harvesting

You can pick out the fruit when the outside begins to turn out to be yellow.

The fruit will ripen after you have picked it.

Handle it moderately because it gets bruised simply.

Diseases

Papaya bushes simply get black leafspot. Your nearest extension officer or cooperative will be capable to inform you find out how to treat this illness.

Organic matter: magic for agricultural soil

ORGANIC matter is an important part of the soil which acts as a remedy for improving the soil health. Addition of organic topic to soil ends up in a fancy chain of multiple benefits. Adding organic mulch to soil surface encourages earthworm process resulting in formation of burrows and other bio-pores, which in turn will increase infiltration of water and decreases its loss as runoff— a outcome that finally ends up in much less pollution of streams and lakes.

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In maximum of agricultural soil natural matter content material is lowering at an alarming charge which is catgorised as poor soil. Soil having 1.29 consistent with cent carbon is thought of as to be enough in organic subject, but the vary of carbon in most of country soil is between zero.52 to one.38 per cent. In most cases, the soil have less than one according to cent of carbon.

The low quantity of natural subject within the soil is both natural or man-created. Among herbal reasons, the main is the climatic conditions during which the imply annual temperature influences the processes of decomposition of organic matter. High temperature stipulations are conducive to a rapid decomposition and lack of natural topic. The greatest soil orders within the country are Aridisol and Entisol having lowest organic subject content among all soil orders. Therefore this soil has lesser capacity to carry upper organic matter content material.

Another primary reason why contributing to low natural contents in soil are farmer’s economic situation who can not apply the required quantity of natural wastes again to soils. Almost no crop residues are left within the soil after harvest. The straw and different crop residues are used as fodder for livestock and animal dung is used as fuel. About 50 consistent with cent of animal droppings don’t seem to be collected, about half of the accumulated is burnt as gas and only one fourth is available for field application. Green manuring isn’t followed by our farmers because it does not give temporary financial returns.

Another factor for lower organic subject content of the soil is the intensive tillage. Tillage aerates the soil and breaks up organic residues, making them obtainable to microbial decomposition, thereby reducing the natural topic content material of the soil. Excessive ploughing has also performed a negative function within the organic matter losses.

Among other causes, the primary is the poor control. Most of the farmers do not know how one can observe organic subject properly and thus make the soil deficient. a Big amount of organic subject material may be misplaced all the way through its transportation to the sector. Moreover the natural material applied to the sector is not totally decomposed which doesn’t play any significant position in enriching the soil and increasing crop yield.

Farmyard manure, poultry manure, crop residues, green manure, filter out cake and silage, slaughter area waste and different cast and liquid based totally fabrics (sewage and sludge, dew pond effluent, town refuse and some waste of meals processing industries), compost, biogas compost etc. are the necessary natural assets to increase soil fertility.

Among strategies to reinforce natural contents of the soil, built-in plant nutrient management device is crucial. Organic resources, in addition to providing nutrients to the soil, make stronger its physical well being. Crops require an speedy glide of vitamins at particular expansion levels to make sure upper yield, which cannot be supplied by herbal weathering of minerals and organic fabrics. Biological sources have their own obstacles of being crop explicit.

Fertilisers, that have all of the nutrients to be had, may give sufficient nutrient to the crops, however their cost and constraints steadily deter farmers from the use of them in really helpful quantities and balanced proportions. The limitations may be overcome by way of the usage of considered combination of the two, which within the long-run is not just complementary but also recommended.

Cultivation of Sesbania as inexperienced manure crop in normal in addition to in marginally salt-affected soil is being practiced by means of some farmers and its price has been proved in many studies. Among crop residues the practice of ploughing of cotton sticks is selecting up among farmers. The Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc), the National Institute of Biotechnology and the Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) and provincial agricultural analysis institutes are sporting out work on organic fertilisation.

The Pakistan Agriculture Research Council in collaboration with a local fertiliser manufacturing facility is producing bio-fertilisers. A composting gadget for recycling of organic wastes into valuable merchandise that now not only improves the expansion and yield of vegetation but also supplies a large supply of nutrients within the form of organic topic for agriculture soils has been evolved at the Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Provincial analysis institutes also are providing inoculums to the farmers for leguminous and non-leguminous plants.

Much of work is going on for making improvements to natural subject content material of the soil and agricultural scientists are looking to broaden strategies simple to handle, environmentally safe and economical for the farmers, for improving fertility of the soil.

Inefficient fertiliser use damaging soil fertility in Punjab

THE unsustainable management practices in Punjab have damaged soil fertility and health, leading to promotion of chemical fertilisers which too is inefficient to the desirable level, according to the Soil Fertility Atlas recently published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

These scenarios warrant adoption of best management practices to enhance fertiliser use efficiency and improve soil fertility for sustaining agricultural productivity, according to the atlas, published in association with the US Department of Agriculture and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The atlas reveals that the use of nutrients is skewed towards nitrogen and phosphorus while the proportional use of potassium is less than one per cent. The use of micronutrients and organic sources of nutrients is not common among most farmers.

The atlas observed five crops and found that 10pc of farmers use organic sources of nutrients, predominantly in wheat-occupied cropping systems, whereas 20pc of farmers across Punjab apply micronutrients regardless of the product quality.

The soil fertility atlas for Punjab is a comprehensive document that provides detailed information on cropping patterns, management practices, soil fertility status, and trends of fertiliser use, advisory services and facilities available to the farmers in the province

An atlas launched by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation is expected to help the province adopt best management practices

Dawn News

It also suggests the strategies to maximise productivity while sustaining the soil health and environmental quality.

“The atlas will help understand the soil fertility management changes required for sustainable agricultural intensification in Punjab,” said Mina Dowlatchahi, the FAO’s representative in Pakistan.

Preserving soil fertility in production intensification is at the heart of any action that aims at protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss, she said.

Nevertheless, the burning of crop residues and a lack of scientific application of both inorganic and organic sources of nutrients still remained a concern. Indeed, the district-wise disaggregation of the National Fertiliser Development Centre’s (NFDC) off-take data did not reflect the actual usage of the fertilisers at farm-gate level.

This divergence, when compared with the rapid fertiliser use assessment (RFUA), was attributed to the storage of fertilisers at various locations in Punjab. Overall, the cumulative usage of fertilisers in all of the regions for five crops followed the same trend: rice-wheat, pulse-wheat and maize-wheat-oilseeds, except one crop production region, i.e. mixed cropping of cotton and wheat.

A nearly 70pc higher nutrient use was figured out from RFUA for all crop production regions except in the rice-wheat based cropping system than the processed NFDC off-take.

Since the increased use of nutrients presumably enhanced yields in case of wheat, further investigations are required in the specific crop production regions to determine suitable nutrient use scenarios for improved efficiency and yield.

The atlas observed that soil-related constraints weighted 40pc in the problem-matrix that could hamper productivity was reported by the farmers at provincial level. However, the degree of soil constraints varied from 43pc to 50pc in regional scenarios.

In Thal and rain-fed areas, canal water shortage and high inputs prices emerged as the principal components impacting productivity and farmers’ satisfaction.

The generation of soil maps for regional scenarios to identify the limiting soil constraints in the consistently poor performing areas may be helpful.

Although crop production in good quality soils is the priority, a simultaneous focus should be on agricultural constrained soils under the changing climate scenarios.

In a nutshell, the first 2Rs of the desirable 4R nutrient stewardship (i.e. right fertilisation at the right rate at the right time in the right place) are usually practised, but the latter 2Rs are rarely followed by the farming communities, which resulted in low nutrient use efficiency and economic returns.

This is the first step forward in the right direction and similar activities should be undertaken in other provinces of the country for achieving the food security and socio-economic uplift.

The atlas recommended that a network of soil, plant, water and fertiliser quality testing facilities for the benefit of the farming community should be established. The existing testing laboratories may not be enough to facilitate about four million farmers of Punjab.

Outreach linkages with the farmers should be strengthened for extensive surveys and assessments at farm-gate level and applying best management practices according to 4R soil constraint-based commodity specific packages. According to USAID’s Mission Director Jerry Bisson, the atlas will help in understanding the soil fertility management changes required for sustainable intensification of Punjab, which is the bread basket of Pakistan and accounts for 60pc of the country’s agricultural products.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, August 7th, 2017

Organic matter status of Pakistan soils and its management

Soil organic matter affects so many soil properties and processes that a complete discussion of the topic is beyond the scope. Often one effect leads to another, so that a complex chain of multiple benefits results from the addition of organic matter to soils. For example, adding organic mulch to the soil surface encourages earthworm activity, which in turn leads to the production of burrows and other biopores, which in turn increases the infiltration of water and decreases its loss as runoff, a result that finally leads to less pollution of streams and lakes.
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Author: Shahzada Sohail Ijaz
Soil organic matter affects so many soil properties and processes that a complete discussion of the topic is beyond the scope. Often one effect leads to another, so that a complex chain of multiple benefits results from the addition of organic matter to soils. For example, adding organic mulch to the soil surface encourages earthworm activity, which in turn leads to the production of burrows and other biopores, which in turn increases the infiltration of water and decreases its loss as runoff, a result that finally leads to less pollution of streams and lakes.
In Pakistan, the soils are very poor in organic matter than the desirable level. A soil having 1.29 % C is considered to be sufficient in organic matter, but Pakistan soils are having less than that. In a survey conducted by Farooq-e-Azam it is reported that the range of soil carbon in Pakistan soils is 0.52 to 1.38% in different soil series. Most of them have less than 1%.
Reasons For Low Organic Matter Content of Pakistan Soils
The low organic matter content of Pakistan soils can be attributed to the following reasons.
Climatic Conditions
The mean annual temperature influences the processes of decomposition of organic matter. At high temperatures the decomposition proceeds very quickly. That is why high temperatures prevailing in Pakistan are conducive for a rapid decomposition and loss of organic matter.
Soil Orders
The differences of organic matter content among soil orders also play key role in determining the potential of a soil to keep a certain level of organic matter. The largest soil orders in Pakistan are Aridisol and Entisol, which are known to have lowest organic matter content among all the soil orders. So our soils naturally have lesser capacity to hold higher organic matter content.
Use of Mineral Fertilizers
Before the advent of mineral fertilizers and green revolution the farmers used to replenish their soils by the application of organic wastes. With the availability of cheap and easy to handle mineral fertilizers the farmers were able to get higher yields only with the application of mineral fertilizers. Thereby the use of organic wastes reduced drastically. The increasing price of mineral fertilizers and soil degradation concerns have forced people to reconsider the organic sources in agriculture.
Poor Economic Conditions of Farmers
The miserable economic condition of our farmers is another reason for less application of the organic wastes back to soils. Almost no crop residues are left in the soil after harvest. The straw and other crop residues are used as fodder for the farm animals and the animal dung is used as fuel. About 50% of animal droppings are not collected, about half of the collected is burnt as fuel and only one fourth is available for field application. Green manuring is not adopted by our farmers because it does not give short term economic returns.
Intensive Tillage
Another culprit for the lower organic matter content of our soils is the practice of intensive soil tillage. Soil tillage aerates the soil and breaks up the organic residues, making them accessible to microbial decomposition thereby reducing the organic matter content of the soil. The slogan “Dab Kay Wah Tay Raj Kay Khah” (Plow more, earn more) has played a considerable role in the organic matter losses.
Different Organic Sources Available for Improving Soil Organic Matter in Pakistan
There is a large contingent of organic sources available in the country to be used for improving the organic matter content of our soils. Some of them are discussed here under.
Farmyard manure
Farmyard manure is decomposed mixture of the dung and urine of cattle of other livestock with the straw and litter used as bedding and residues from the fodder fed to them. It has been estimated that about 1.5 million tones of nutrients are available from farmyard manure in Pakistan. About 50 per cent of the dung in Pakistan remains uncollected. Out of collected animals dung about 50 per cent is used as fuel in the from dried cake, locally called “Pathi”. Whatever is collected for manuring is usually heaped on the ground surface with residues from fodder and other house sweepings. The nitrogen in the manure is subject to volatilization and leaching losses and the material that finally will be spread on the field may have low nitrogen content. The application of well-decomposed manure is more desirable than using fresh materials.
Poultry manure
Poultry manure has a higher nutrient content than livestock manure. According to the estimates the poultry manure available in the country can contribute about 101 thousand tones of nitrogen, 58 thousand tones of phosphorous and 26 thousand tones of potash.
Crop residues
Crop residues include straw, husk, leave, vegetable and fruit waste, grass cuttings, weeds, sawdust etc. In Pakistan, most of the crop residues such as wheat straw, sugarcane tops/trash, cotton sticks, rice husk etc are used as fodder for animals and as a fuel. But other waste materials can be converted into useful compost manures by conserving and subjecting them to a controlled process of decomposition.
Green manure
Green manuring refers to the practice of growing crops, preferably legumes and ploughing them under, when they reach maximum production of green tops. Legumes are preferred as they have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen. The amount of N fixed varies from crop to crop and may be about 20-40 kg/ha. In Pakistan Dhancha, Guar and Sunhemp are suitable crops for green manuring.
Filter cake and silage
According to an estimate Pakistan sugar industry is producing about 1.2 million tones of filter cake every year, which is a rich source of organic matter, micro and macronutrients. Some sugar mils have molasses based distillery plants, which produce silage containing nutrients specially potassium. In case, all these materials are recycled by composting back to soil, it will also be a good source of essential plant nutrients for crop growth.
Slaughter house waste
Slaughter house wastes such as dried blood, meat meal, hoof and horn meal; have a high N content and are essentially concentrated organic manures, fairly quick acting, safe to use and effective on all crops. Slaughter houses are wide spread throughout Pakistan and largely their by-products are left outside, in one appraisal, it was shown that about 8000 tons blood meal could be produced annually for manorial use containing essential nutrients.
Other solid and liquid based materials 
The other solid and liquid based materials available include sewage and sludge, fishpond effluent, city refuse and some waste of food processing industries. All these materials cannot be used directly as source of plant nutrients. However, after proper processing and removal of heavy metals and undesirable materials, these can prove good source of plant nutrients.
Compost
Composting is the process of decomposing (through the action of micro-organisms in the soil) plant residues in a heap or pit with a view to converting the nutrients contained in the residue in more readily available form.
In rural areas crop residues, stubbles, weeds, fallen leaves, remnants of fodder and green manure, etc. can be collected and stored in heap or pit. In this way, as the last pit is filled, the compost in the first pit is ready for application. Municipal/industrial wastes comprising mainly town refuse and human excreta can also be composted. The preparation of urban compost on a large scale is being done in many countries. Some plants are also installed in Pakistan. Quite sophisticated machinery may be required for this purpose.
Biogas compost
This is a process by which organic material are biologically decomposed to yield energy in the form of combustible gases. The residual material provides valuable manure. Cattle dung which should be used for improving soil productivity is generally burnt as fuel. Biogas technology reconciles both these objectives: anaerobic decomposition of the cattle dung yield both fuel (biogas) and organic fertilizer (sludge). Biogas, popularly known as “gobargas”, is composed mainly of methane (CH4), about 60 percent; thus 1000 cubic feet biogas is equivalent to 600 cubic feet of natural gas, 5.2 gallons of gasoline and 4.6 gallons of diesel oil. A small family of four would require 150 cubic feet of biogas per day, for cooking and lighting an amount which can be generated from the family’s night soil and the dung of three cows.
Strategies For Improving Organic Matter Content of Pakistan Soils
Integrated Plant Nutrition Management System
Organic source (farm yard manure, crop residues), in addition to providing nutrients, improve the physical condition of the soil. Nevertheless, organic materials release plant nutrients slowly. Crops require an instant flow of nutrients at special growth stages to ensure higher yield, which cannot be supplied by natural weathering of minerals and organic materials. Biological sources have their own limitations of being crop specific. Fertilizers, which have all the nutrients in available form, can provide sufficient plant nutrient flow to the corps. Fertilizers are the quickest and surest way of boosting crop production but their cost and constraints frequently deter farmers from using them in the recommended quantities and balanced proportions. The limitations associates with either source of plant nutrients are often overcome when they are used in judicious combinations providing a mixture, which in the long-term, is not only complementary but also synergistic.
At present in Pakistan during a survey by NFDC it was found out that 49 per cent farmers use the FYM. The cultivation of sesbania as green manure crop in normal as well as marginally salt effected soils is being practiced by some farmers and its worth has been proved in many studies. Among the crop residues the practice of ploughing of cotton sticks is picking up among the farmers. Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), National Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) and Provincial Agricultural Research Institute are carrying out work on biological fertilization. Pakistan Agriculture Research Council in collaboration with Engro Chemical Pakistan Limited commercialized rhizobium specific for chickpea in the name of Biozot. NIBGE is also marketing its bio-fertilizer for rice in the brand name as Biopower. Provincial Research Institutes are also providing inoculums to the farmers formers for leguminous and non leguminous crops.
Zero/ Minimum Tillage System
Zero tillage is a system in which the soil is left undisturbed. The only soil disturbance is of a narrow band by soil engaging components of the planter or drill. Reduction in soil disturbance from conventional, highly disturbed tillage methods to minimum or zero tillage produces slower carbon losses and may even increase the amount of C stored in a soil. Long-term experiments conducted in developed countries support this conclusion. Other benefits of zero tillage to farmers include: Less labour, reduced machinery wear and tear, high soil moisture, improved soil tilth, reduced soil erosion and reduced production cost.
In Pakistan, the zero tillage has proved excellent for rice-wheat cropping system. It allows utilization and conservation of antecedent soil moisture, time saving due to early planting, and minimize yield losses attributed to soil structural break down under continuous cropping practices. Adoption of zero tillage system for all the agro ecological zones of Pakistan still needs a lot of experimentation and research work.
Weed control through chemicals is one of the drawbacks of this system. Because of being costly and environmentally hazardous it is desirable to use some cheaper and environmentally safe chemicals. It is also possible that instead of keeping the field completely free of weeds, we can keep them to a safe threshold level and only till when weeds exceed threshold level. Increasing the cropping intensity is excellent way-out to reduce weeds.
However, under our conditions, minimum tillage system seems to be more promising than zero tillage. Cultivation can be done only when ever it is inevitable, for example at seedbed preparation or when weeds exceed the threshold level. This would also help reduce the use of chemicals for control of weeds and insects. Thereby reducing the input costs and environmental concerns.
References
Azam, F., M. M Iqbal, C. Inayatullah and K. A. Malik. 2001. Technologies for sustainable agriculture. Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology, Faisalabad.
Ahmed, N. and M. Rahid. 2003. Fertilizers and Their Use in Pakistan. National Fertilizer Development Center. Islamabad.
Brady, N.C. and R. R. Weil. 2002. Nature and Properties of Soils 12th Ed. Pearson Education inc. Delhi, India.
Khan, S. R.A. 2001. Crop Management in Pakistan with Focus on Soil and Water. Directorate of Agricultural Information, Punjab, Lahore.

There’s No Place Like Loam: Preparing Your Soil for Planting

Some gardeners are downright contentious about the word soil, insisting that it’s not the same thing as dirt. Soil, they insist, is the stuff in your  garden; it’s what you grow plants in. Dirt is what you wash off your hands or
sweep under the rug.
Soil. Dirt. Even planting medium. It’s the place roots call home. Call it what you want. The gardener’s secret is never to treat soil like dirt. Savvy gardeners continually improve their soil. It doesn’t matter how long  you’ve been growing herbs and other plants: Garden soil is always a work in progress. This chapter is all about soil and what it takes to get it ready for planting.

What Plants Need from Soil

Soil anchors plants to the earth and supplies the oxygen, water, and nutrients that they need to live. Good garden soil, according to the professionals, consists of about 25 percent air, 25 percent water, 45 percent mineral particles,
and 5 percent organic matter.

That’s right — although most people think of soil as a solid, about half the volume of a healthy soil is actually made up of air and water! Picture a glass filled with marbles; the spaces between the marbles are like the spaces between soil particles. Plant roots grow in these spaces — the same passageways through which air, water, dissolved nutrients, and soil organisms travel.

Soil provides plants with much of what they need to survive and grow, including air, water, and nutrients:

Air to breathe: Plants need oxygen, and they absorb some of it through their roots. A few plant species thrive in ground so wet that it contains almost no air. That extra moisture may be okay for watercress, but not for most herbs (or for many of the beneficial macro- and microorganisms that live in your soil). If the roots of most herbs sit for too long in saturated soil — soil in which the spaces between the particles are filled with water — the roots will die, and when the roots die, the plant dies, too. So one of your goals in preparing the soil for an herb garden bed is to make sure that water drains well.
✓ Water to drink: Most plants are about 90 percent water (which is why plant leaves become limp during a drought). And most plants need a fairly constant supply of water, especially during hot, dry weather. So although you want water to drain from the soil after watering or a heavy rain, you don’t want it to drain so quickly that plants are left thirsty. Another one of your goals, then, is to make sure the soil retains some water.
✓ Nutrients for healthy growth: As roots take in the water they need, they also take in the nutrients dissolved in that water — nutrients that the plants need for healthy growth. Some of these nutrients are leached into the water from minerals in the soil; some may be from fertilizer you’ve applied to the soil (more on fertilizing in Chapter 9). Water must be present for plants to take up nutrients.

Soils 
Particles of rock make up most of the solid portion of garden soils. Soil scientists classify soil separates by their size , beginning with boulders any rock that measures about 10 inches across. That measurement
may sound small to you if you thought a boulder was something big enough to sunbathe on. But those of us with lots of these boulders in our gardens refer to them as “those #%*!! rocks.”
Progressively smaller in size, technically speaking, are stones, pebbles, and  gravel, and we hope these items are scant in your garden. Smaller yet are sand, silt, and clay, and these particles constitute the mineral component of garden soil. Although most soils contain a combination of these particle sizes, often one size predominates. Here’s a rundown of the characteristics of these soil particles:

Sand: Sand particles, which can be fine or coarse, are the largest of the three, measuring from 0.5 to 2 millimeters across. You can see them clearly with the naked eye. Gardeners with sandy soil, which feels gritty, often call it light soil because it doesn’t get saturated and soggy and is easy to cultivate whether wet or dry.
Because sand particles are relatively large and angular or round in shape, they don’t cling together closely, leaving space for water and air to move between the individual particles. As a result, sandy soil drains quickly — too quickly for many plants.
✓ Silt: You need a microscope to see silt particles (0.002 to 0.5 millimeters) but you can recognize them by touch: When dry, silty soil feels smooth, like flour or talcum powder. Most silt particles have an irregular shape as sand particles do, but in soils, they’re often thinly coated with clay. Water tends to run off silty soil, but once it penetrates the surface, silt  retains moisture better than sand does.

Clay: Clay particles measure less than 0.002 millimeters across. Because of their size and flat shape, clay particles stick together — and feel sticky and slick when wet. (If you’ve ever made pottery, you know what clay soil feels like.) The particles in clay soil are tightly packed, and the spaces between them are small, so water drains poorly, leaving the soil saturated and depriving plants of the air they need.
Clay soil, which may be tinged red, black, gray, or blue, stays wet and cold in spring. Because clay is harder to dig when wet or dry, it’s often referred to as heavy soil.
Your garden soil won’t be all sand or all clay, however, but a mix. If that mix is 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt, and 20 percent clay, you have loam, the ideal soil for gardening.

Management of Organic Soils

Introduction

Organic soils, commonly called peat or muck, have developed from plant residues and been preserved by a high water table. Many generations of plants, growing for decades have fallen in the water in which they were growing and been preserved because of the lack of oxygen. It takes nature about 500 years to accumulate 30 cm of organic soil.

Organic soils are used extensively for vegetable production in Ontario and with proper management will produce excellent crops year after year.

Subsidence

Organic soils have a major chronic problem – they subside at a steady rate. The term “subsidence” is used to describe the permanent lowering of the surface elevation of the soil. Several factors are responsible for subsidence. The most important are: oxidation of the soil organic matter, soil shrinkage, wind erosion, water erosion, and height of the water table. The rate of subsidence varies, depending on the frequency of wind erosion, the organic-matter content of the soil, the degree of water-level control, and the methods of cultivation. 

Research has shown that a muck soil, intensively cropped, subsides at a rate of 30 cm of soil every 10 years. This process can be slowed by the application of copper, a well designed water-control program, a wind abatement and cover crop program and minimum cultivation. These steps are essential for long-term continued use of organic soils for agriculture. With good water table control and soil management practices, the rate of subsidence can be reduced to 4.7 cm every 10 years.

Copper

Copper (Cu) applied as fertilizer slows down the activity of enzymes which cause subsidence by about 50%. It is recommended that 14 kg of Cu/ha be applied for the first three years of initial cultivation followed by 5 kg Cu/ha every second year, particularly when onions, carrots or lettuce are grown.

Water Control

The level of the water table influences crop production and has a major affect on the rate of subsidence. therefore, the water table should be maintained at a level which will keep subsidence to a minimum and at the same time produce optimum crop yields. 

Maintenance of an ideal water table level in organic soils is affected by a number of factors: 

Amount of Available Water 

Generally, in Ontario there is not sufficient groundwater available to replenish water lost through evaporation and that used by plants. Therefore, groundwater cannot be relied upon to maintain an ideal water table level in Ontario’s organic soils.  

There are two methods by which the water table may be maintained. 

(1) Overhead sprinkler irrigation This method is reasonably economical as long as there is a large water supply nearby. The capital cost is high and there is the added cost of moving pipe, as well as maintenance costs.  

(2) Tile drains An ideal water table is more easily maintained when pipelines leading from main sources of water (e.g. canals, rivers, ponds) are connected to the tile-drain system via a series of valves and water-control gates. Although the initial capital expense may be high, the subsequent costs of operating this system are negligible.

Tolerance of Various Crops

The level of the water table is an important consideration in growing different crops. The following table shows the levels required. 


Table 1. Adaptable Heights of Water Table for Different Crops
(Cm Below Soil Surface)
30-40 cm 40-50 cm 50-60 cm 60-75 cm 75-90 cm
Blueberry Celery Bean Onion Carrot
Cranberry Sod Potato Beet Parsnip
Radish Cereals Cauliflower Lettuce
Parsley Cabbage Mint
Corn
Spinach

 

Permeability 

The ease by which water moves in a particular organic soil affects the level that can be safely maintained. Reed and sedge peats are more permeable than the more compact sedimentary, woody mucks. After many years of subsidence, the density of the soil increases and permeability decreases. The vertical movement of water in an organic soil may vary from 0.5 to 34 cm per hour. The rate of movement of water is an important factor in drainage design and in water-control installations.

Rainfall 

The amount of rainfall during the season plays an important part in the behaviour of a crop relative to the position of the groundwater level. In seasons of high rainfall the water table should be maintained at a lower level than during periods of low rainfall. 

Flotation of Equipment 

At water levels above 60 cm, tractors and loaded wagons easily bog down, weed control becomes more difficult, and spraying and harvesting operations are hampered. 

Plant Nutrient Availability 

High water tables affect the availability of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash because of restricted root development. Nitrogen can be applied during the growing season if and when required. The ideal situation is a water-control system that permits a progressive lowering and maintenance of the water table to a level optimum for the crop as the growing season progresses (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Actual and ideal water levels for an organic soil

Chart showing actual and ideal water levels for an organic soil.

Wind-Erosion Control

Severe losses can result from wind damage. Many crops are either destroyed or seriously injured during the early part of the growing season. Losses of 1 to 3 cm of soil and filling in of ditches are the usual results of wind storms. 

Several methods of wind-erosion control have been used with varying success. They are: windbreaks; maintenance of a moist soil surface, either by sub-irrigation through the tile drains or overhead irrigation; interplanting of grain between crop rows or broadcast among the crop; winter cover crops; use of minimum-tillage methods to leave rough field surfaces and planting on raised beds or ridges.

Fall planted winter cover crops can provide protection from wind erosion and early spring runoff. Cover crops can be planted after early onions and carrots, lettuce, celery, radish or greens. If vegetables are to be planted the following spring, growers prefer to plant winter cover crops which die off during the winter and that do not interfere with seeding. Spring grains such as barley at 84 kg/ha or oilseed radish at 11-22 kg/ha are suitable (See Figure 2 – picture of winter cover crop). In the Bradford area, best results are obtained when fall planted cover crops are seeded before September 15. However, this date varies from season to season and in different regions of the province.

Figure 2. Oil seed radish winter covercrop – 2 seeding dates

Oil seed radish winter covercrop - 2 seeding dates.

To improve soil structure on marginal muck soils, perennial rye grass, winter rye or sudax (Sorghum-sudan) are suitable as a summer cover crop. Perennial rye grass needs warm weather to get established. 

Sorghum-Sudan has been shown to successfully improve the health and drainage of marginal muck soils. The following practices are recommended when using Sorghum-Sudan on muck soils: a pre-plant herbicide is helpful to get the crop established; only plant Sorghum-Sudan after all threat of frost has passed; broadcast seed at about 50 kg/ha and apply 45 – 56 kg of N per hectare prior to planting. The Sorghum-Sudan must be mowed down once or twice to about 6″ high after it has grown to about 3 feet. This promotes tillering and deep root growth and prevents the development of woody stalks. The crop must be chopped and/or disked in the fall while it is still green. Do not let the crop head out.

Early in the growing season cereals can be planted with onions and carrots to prevent wind erosion and wind damage. Such cereal windbreaks (usually barley) can be seeded between the rows of onions and carrots at a rate of about 60 seeds per metre or broadcast at a rate of 200-225 seeds per square metre (1-1/2 bu/acre). Once the barley windbreaks are 10-15 cm high they should be treated with one of the registered selective grass herbicides so they do not compete with the vegetable crop. Check the label of these products carefully for specific recommendations.

Water-Erosion Control 

Winter cover crops provide some limited control of water erosion during spring thaws, however heavy rainstorms can cause serious erosion in low areas and along ditchbanks. Recent research indicates that a proper mixture of perennial rye, fescues, timothy, clover and Kentucky blue grass can be used as a soil stabilizer along ditchbanks and headlands.

Soil Reaction and Liming 

The range of pH of most organic soils in Ontario is between 4.0 and 7.5. The acidity of organic soils is caused by the presence of organic compounds, exchangeable hydrogen, and iron sulfide. Alkaline conditions are often caused by burning (the ash from burning 30 cm of organic soil may raise the pH to 1 to 1-1/2 units); the presence of limestone, marl or shells or over-liming. 

When the pH is 5.1 or lower, an application of lime is generally recommended, particularly when a chemical analysis indicates a lower percentage of calcium in the soil.

Soluble Salts

High concentrations of soluble salts in soils can prevent or delay germination of seeds and can seriously damage established plants. Salt problems have become commonplace in some muck soils especially during rought periods. Salt levels can rise to damaging levels from excessive applications of fertilizers, runoff of salts applied to roads and chemical spills. Fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate, potassium chloride, sodium nitrate and ammonium sulfate can increase salt levels. If a salt problem develops, overhead irrigation with a low salt water can reduce the damaging effects.

Fertilizing Organic Soils 

Nitrogen, phosphate and potash are applied in various amounts depending on the specific crop requirements, the number of years the soil has been under cultivation and the soil reaction. Refer to the latest edition of Vegetable Production Recommendations, OMAFRA Publication 363 for specific requirements. 

Nitrogen exists largely as a constituent of the organic matter and requires the action of soil microorganisms to change to forms available to plants. The rate of release of nitrogen decreases as the soils are cultivated for a period of years. Strongly acid soils are usually low in nitrogen. 

Phosphorus is present largely in organic forms. Organic phosphorus has to be mineralized before it can be utilized by plants. Crops growing in most organic soils usually respond to an application of phosphate fertilizer, provided an adequate amount of potash is included in the mixture. Soils which have been under production for many years may show a high level of phosphorus. In such cases only 20 kg of phosphate are required as a starter fertilizer for most crops (40 kg/ha for celery). 

Potassium Potash applied to organic soils increases yields of crops, increases the sugar and starch content, reduces frost hazards within a narrow range (1-2EC), improves crop quality, and possibly increases disease resistance. 

Micro elements Micro-element requirements of organic soils in Ontario generally include the elements copper, boron, manganese, magnesium and zinc. 

Copper sulfate at 50 kg/ha and borax at 20 kg/ha, mixed with the commercial fertilizers, should be applied to all newly developed organic soil areas. Manganese, magnesium, and zinc, if required, are usually applied as foliar sprays during the growing season. 

The latter should only be applied if there are indications (visual symptoms or through tissue analysis) that a deficiency exists. Refer to the latest edition of Vegetable Production Recommendations, OMAF Publication 363 for micronutrient recommendations for specific crops.

Soil Testing 

Applying fertilizer according to recommendations based upon soil tests is the only sure means of maintaining a balance of nutrients in the soil. 

Virgin organic soils are usually low in available phosphorus and potassium. Changes in fertility levels brought about by application of fertilizer can be measured by soil tests. Soil testing is a valuable aid in determining the nutrient requirements of crops. 

Recommendations for nitrogen are made by extension horticulturists who take into consideration the crop requirements as well as the type of organic soils, the length of time it has been under cultivation and its decomposition rate. 

Adapted Crops 

Some vegetables that do well on properly-managed organic soils are potato, onion, carrot, parsnip, lettuce, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, table beet, sweet corn, radish, yow choy, choy sum, gai lan, tung choy and spinach. Some field crops adapted to organic soils are corn, sugar beet, mint, peas, grasses, and small grains.

Frost-susceptible crops such as sweet potato, pepper, eggplant, melon, and tomato are not well adapted to organic soils. 

Organic soils are one of our many natural resources. People are becoming increasingly aware of the need to manage and preserve these limited resources. Prevention of fire and erosion are important conservation objectives.

Wise development of organic soils will include uses for agriculture as well as for wildlife and recreation.

Acknowledgements 

Lucas, R.E. 1982. Organic Soils (Histosols), Formation, distribution, physical and chemical properties and management for crop production. Michigan State University research report 435. 77 pgs. 

Marza, C. and Irwin, R.W. 1964. Determination of Subsidence of an Organic Soil. Can. Intl. Soil Sci. 44: 243-253. 

Mathur, S.P. 1981. The Inhibitory Role of Copper in Enzyme Degradation of Organic Soils. Proc. Intl. Peat Symposium Bemidji, MN. pg. 191-219. 

Valk, M. 1976. Management of Organic Soils. Original Manuscript. Agdex 512, 76-094.

Why Soil Matters in gardening

Growing healthy plants starts with building healthy soil. Although it may look inert (except for the occasional earthworm), garden soil is teeming with life. In this complex, underground ecosystem, microorganisms like bacteria
and fungi are constantly breaking down organic matter, releasing nutrients that plants need in the process. Critters large and small are tunneling, opening up pathways that allow air and water to move. Building healthy soil in the garden usually involves adding organic matter like compost to feed soil microbesand adjusting soil pH to its optimal level.

Why is soil so critical? Because of roots. While we sit back and applaud the flowers and foliage that grow above the rim of the pot, it’s the roots that are really supporting the show and that deserve our accolades. Roots work constantly to find the right amount of air, moisture, and nutrients in the soil to fuel the flowers and foliage above.

 By Organic compost for soil Gardening shop (Karachi)

In the ground, a plant’s roots may extend dozens or even hundreds of feet to find what they need. In contrast, the roots of a plant in a container must find everything within the confines of the pot. That’s why providing the right soil mix is the most important thing you can do to ensure the success of your container plants.

 

Top 5 tech innovations in agriculture

There are an estimated 570 million farms in the world and, in a neat twist of number synergy, according to Valoral Advisors, funding rounds in technological innovations along the agriculture and food value chain also raised around $570 million in 2014. 

While much of this investment is directed at ag-tech startups and disruptive market newcomers, in many ways priorities remain the same as ever – innovation in resource use, especially in terms of land and water (also energy), to boost efficiency and yields. Here are five of the solutions helping to support global growth of sustainable agriculture and food production… 

1. Data preserved in soil

For traditional farming models, perhaps the primary determinant of supply capacity is simply the availability and suitability of land. However, any idea of future potential must be built on current data, with what data there is then mapped to tell the story of a region. This story is effectively written in the dirt, the soil. 

The Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS) is developing continent-wide digital soil maps for sub-Saharan Africa using new analysis, statistics, field trials and crowdsourcing. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the ISRIC World Soil Information AfSIS project has forged key partnerships with governments, plus a range of stakeholders and academic institutions, including the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Digital soil mapping, especially in data-sparse regions such as Africa, is key to planning sustainable agricultural intensification and natural resources management. With open access, these interactive maps are publicly available to be explored on Google Earth. 

close up of carrot in soil

2. Agriculture moving underground 

Singapore relies heavily on imports for more than 90 per cent of its fruit and vegetables. Therefore, diners in Japanese restaurants there might be surprised to discover their rocket, radish and baby spinach has not only been cultivated locally in the country’s first licensed indoor vegetable farm, but by an electronics giant better known for TVs – Panasonic. 

Annual soil-based production capacity at the initial Panasonic facility launched last year was 3.6 tonnes, but the company is by no means the only high-tech brand setting up urban and vertical farms, to showcase technology rather than make profit. 

Sharp is growing strawberries in Dubai, while Sony, Toshiba and Fujitsu are all utilising former clean-room facilities at semiconductor plants across Japan for lettuce. These no-wash, no-soil greens are cultivated by means of hydroponics and grown at more than twice the speed of normal field production, thanks to specialised LED lighting to optimise photosynthesis. 

plants under LED light

3. Greens fed on rainbow waste 

Hydroponics, as the name suggests, is a growing method based on use of mineral-enriched water, whereas aquaponics takes matters a step further, bringing together fish and plant farming in one recirculating system. 

At Bioaqua Farm at Blackford in Somerset – the largest integrated aquaponic farm in Europe – vegetables are grown and Rainbow Trout reared together in organic symbiosis, without chemicals or pesticides, but with the help of bees and worms. 

The fish provide most of the plant nutrition, by way of aquaculture effluent. In turn, fish waste metabolites are removed by nitrification and direct uptake by plants, with the suitably treated water then flowing back to the fish. In all, it is claimed this virtuous circle of reciprocity requires up to 95 per cent less water than traditional horticulture farming. 

hydroponic agriculture close up of lettuce seedlings

4. Using the sun to generate freshwater

Water efficiency in farming and food production, whether for traditional rural irrigation, arid regions or urban farms, represents a key metric in the face of global population growth and climate change. 

Considered together, scarcity of freshwater resources and the fact that 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface is nevertheless covered in water, therefore make a compelling argument for desalination. The stumbling block, historically, has been its energy-hungry nature and prohibitively high running costs relative to agricultural profit margins. 

The innovative solution offered by Sundrop Farms draws on one of the few renewable resources in even more abundant supply than seawater – sunlight. Sundrop Farms harvests solar power to generate energy for desalination to supply hydroponic greenhouses. 

Requiring no freshwater, farmland or fossil fuels, this potential game-changer for sustainable farming is creating 300 jobs in Port Augusta, South Australia, with a ten-year contract won to grow tomatoes for Coles supermarkets. 

field of solar panels

5.  Agriculture by aircraft 

In the media, drones have mostly been associated with the military and spying, plus the odd pizza-delivery publicity stunt. 

An annual competition in the United Arab Emirates, UAE Drones for Good Award, acknowledges both this dark reputation and that things are changing. Competition finalists this year pitched benefits for unmanned aerial vehicles from conservation support to medical deliveries, as well as farming help. 

The Munich-based Quantum-Systems entry was a transition aircraft combining capabilities of a multicopter and fixed-wing model – vertical take-off, plus fast forward flight like a normal plane. Quantum VRT design allows farmers to adopt precise fertilisation strategies via accurate flight-planning software with evaluation of crop conditions, so reducing reliance on fertilisers and boosting yields. 

Dubai plans to scale up agriculture drone technology usage in a bid to become self-sufficient in food security by 2030. With 98 per cent imports, the emirate currently outstrips Singapore. 

drone hovering over field

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Principle of Crop Rotation

Crop rotation done according to the principle of crop rotation it can help full in maintain the soil fertility.

Crop Rotation

It is defined as the growing of crops in an orderly and well planned way. It depends upon

1. Type of crop sown
2. Local economic factor
3. Traditioning
4. Objective of crop rotation

To prevent the built up of insect pest, weeds and soil born diseases
To maintain soil fertility for the next crop
To conserve soil erosion which may cause from wind or water
To conserve soil moisture from one season for the next
To ensure a balanced programme of work throughout the season

Principle of crop Rotation

The traditional principles on which the planning of crop rotations is based are following which are helpful for the best crop rotation

Alternating growing of crops with differential ability to absorb nutrients from the soil or having different root depth
A planned succession of crops that take it to account any detrimental or beneficial effects of one crop on the following crop. These affects may be due to toxic organic matter, soil structure, soil micro organisms or residual soil moisture
Alternating crops susceptible to certain diseases with those that are resistant ( alternate host provision)
Alternating soil exhausting crops with crops that contribute to the improvement of soil fertility
Alternating crops with different peak requirements of labor and water etc.
The traditional crops rotation is in general exhausting and makes no contributions to soil fertility. The basic problem is therefore to device a crop rotation that will raise the level of soil fertility thus making it possible for the following crop to benefit fully from the favorable moisture require prevailing during its growing periods. It is frequently assumed that pulses are desirable proceeding crops for the winter cereals and it was originally that increasing the area under pulses would have beneficial effects on soil fertility. However results are always disappointing at harvesting. A seed crop from the legume usually result in a drop of at least 30% in the yield of the following wheat crop as compared with following wheat with fallow

Legume (seed) ______ Wheat (30%loss)

Wheat ____________ Fallow ________ Wheat

Leguminous crops that are not allowed to mature seed but are used for green manure, hay, silage, have been shown to improving the soil fertility. When a deep rooted legume crop such a lucern is turned under for green manure, the soil has usually dried out to a depth of several feet when the legume is cut before seed I formed the amount of plant nutrients removed from the soil is relatively small while the soil is enriched in nitrogen and organic matter.

Factor affecting crop rotation

Climate
Climate is the one of most important factor which is effect the crop rotation either by wind, rain or other factors.

Type and nature of soil
Type and nature of soil is also important factor which effects the crop rotation some soil are fertile and some are low in fertility

Availability of inputs
Availability of inputs at the place is also effects the crop rotation like fertilizer, pesticide etc

Availability of labor
Availability of labor is effect the crop rotation. The labor is required at the critical stages of crop if the labor is not available at that time the crop may cause loss

Situation of farm
The farm location is also very important factor which is effect the crop rotation.

Size of Farm
The size of farm is effects the crop rotation. Small land holding is major problem in Pakistan that’s why crop rotation is effect by the farm size

Type of farming
Type of farming is also effect the crop rotation

Types of crop Rotation

According to residual effect on soil
Exhaustive rotation
Restorative rotation
According to periods of time
Fixed Rotation
Flexible rotation

Conclusion:

The crop rotation is very important in the Agriculture. Crop rotation done according to the principle of crop rotation it can help full in maintain the soil fertility.

Aqib Hussain Sial

Department of Agronomy University of Agriculture, Faisalabad