Importance of Soil Organic Matter Management

The soil organic matter plays a crucial role in soil productivity. It contains the humus, a decomposed material which makes the soil suitable for crop production. 

Humus is the main part of the soil organic matter. This carbon material, made from decomposed plant and animal material, plays an important role in soil properties. Therefore, it needs to be properly managed.    

The soil is a foundation for crop production. A successful crop production is the result of an implementation of all required farm practices such as proper and timely soil tillage, sowing, maintenance, protection, and other. However, all the effort is futile if only one thing is missing- the soil organic matter. So, what it is and why is so important to achieve farmer’s main goal, a high and healthy crop yield? 

Soil organic matter is the fraction in the soil consisted of:

  • live organisms (soil microbes)  
  • active soil fraction, living parts of plants (roots) 
  • stable soil fraction, humus 

Both soil microbes and active soil fraction enhance soil fertility. Their breakdown releases plant essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc.  

The main part of organic matter is humus, a carbon compound material formed from decomposed plant and animal materials, unable to use by soil micro-organisms. Made by the process of decomposition, called humifaction, humus actually provides all positive effects to the soil properties. It contributes to soil structure, health, and management.  

Soil organic matter makes only 1-6 percent of the total soil mass. Despite its low presence, it has many beneficial impacts on soil properties while its role influences the whole crop production.

Benefits of Soil Organic Matter   

Soil organic matter has many benefits important for achieving a sustainable soil. It contributes to soil productivity in many different ways by changing the physical, chemical, and biological soil properties. Soils rich in organic matter have following farm properties: 

  • Reduced bulk density 
  • Increased aggregation 
  • Facilitated seedbed preparation 
  • Resistance to compaction 
  • Enhanced fertility 
  • Accelerated decomposition process 
  • Increased nutrient supply 
  • Reduced risk of erosion 
  • Increased biological activity 
  • Improved water-holding capacity 

Farm Practices for Soil Organic Matter Management 

Soil organic matter is crucial for successful farming. To manage soils with the lack of organic matter and with disrupted properties, farmers need to regularly apply certain farm practices.  

Soil organic matter can be managed in several ways. The best farm practices to improve soil organic matter are as follows:  

  • leaving of crop residue on the soil surface, as the best way of organic matter improvement   
  • crop rotation practice, with incorporated cover crops and legumes 
  • conservation tillage practices, such as no-till 
  • adding of organic materials such as manure, compost, sewage sludge 
  • avoiding soil compaction 

Consequently, the fastest way to increase soil organic matter is by using plant materials high in carbon such as compost or semi-solid manure.  

Another important factor in organic matter management are: 

  • crop yield  
  • crop type 
  • the method of handling residues 
  • the frequency of fallow  

The total amount of organic matter in the soil is influenced by soil properties and by the quantities of annual inputs of plant and animal materials to the ecosystem.

The soil properties which determine the rate of decomposition and accumulation of soil organic matter are: 

  • texture  
  • pH  
  • temperature  
  • moisture 
  • aeration 
  • clay mineralogy  
  • soil biological activities  

 

The soil is an important asset which plays many roles; it supports our planet’s biodiversity, provides us with food and creates the most complex ecosystem. Therefore, the aim of every farmer is to take care of it by improving and maintaining its properties. The first step prior that is proper organic matter management.  

 

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  • Tasos on December 8, 2021 @ 19:08:18

This post was created by Filip Gerin on July 20, 2021.