Nutrient Management Planning

Organic Matter in Island Soil

(2013-05-21) One of the best ways to measure the health of your soil is to look at the organic matter content. Island soils, for the most part, fall in the range of 2 and 4 %.

The soil's organic matter supports its living component and contains the reserve of nutrients that are released for plant growth. Soil organic matter is natures form of a slow release nitrogen fertilizer. A soil that contains 3.5 to 4 % organic matter should release 15 to 20 lbs/acre of nitrogen over the growing season.

Organic matter plays an important role in soil structure, water holding capacity, drainage and makes it more resistant to erosion. It also plays a major role in the soil's ability to tie up or absorb potential pollutants such as pesticides. Excessive tillage of any kind depletes organic matter and leaves the soil exposed and prone to soil erosion. Organic matter can be added to your soil through the addition of manure, biosolids, composts, crop rotation and cover crops.

The challenge is to manage your soil to increase or maintain organic matter levels.

About the Author

Harvey Cairns is the agronomist working with Kensington North and the PEI Federation of Agriculture on nutrient management with our farmers. Harvey has a long professional background with nutrient management. He has worked for the PEI Soil and Crop Improvement Association and the PEI Dept. responsible for Agriculture. He is a Certified Nutrient Planner and a Certified Crop Advisor. His many years of experience is apparent in his observations on soil and nutrient issues.

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