As a farm owner, soil is your first and most important asset. You should work to improve soil quality before you begin planting crops. There are a few methods you can turn to, varying in expense and labor. All are worth while, as they will make your soil more productive and nutritious in the long term.

Soil Monitoring

Before improving your soil, you must know the quality of the soil starting out. There are ways to keep track of your soil on regular basis. This can be done at the same time of year each year, on the same plot of land.

Crop management is also a major factor, revealing how your crops affect the soil and what changes ought to be made. It’s best to automate this process as much as you can.

Soil Sampling

Soil sampling is best way to determine your soil quality and how your actions affect it. This should be left to the professionals, done on the timeframe they recommend. This depends mostly on what exactly you are testing for.

-Inorganic nitrogen should be tested for once or twice a year, and always before planting.
-PH should be tested once a year and managed accordingly.
-Potassium should be tested every other year.
-Phosphorus needs to be tested every other year as well.

When it comes to biological and physical characteristics of the soil, you should do it less often and according to a separate timeframe.

-Soil organic matter should be tested every 3 years.
-Active organic matter needs to be tested once a year.
-Soil aggregation needs to be tested every 2-3 years.
-Bulk density also needs to be tested every 2 years.

Improving Soil Structure

Soil structure is equally important to the quality of your crops as to the soil, in terms of its chemical and biological content. It too can be improved if you work on it. Structure is also key to maintaining production on a consistent level over multiple years.

This is done by building soil organic matter, or SOM. These soil organisms are used for decomposing the compost, thus making the soil more nutritious and fruitful overall. Your goal is to keep these organisms at a certain level at all times.

Cover Crops

Cover crops are an age-old but simple method for improving the soil, and are making a comeback now that environmental care is becoming a larger part of agricultural practices. Cover crops are generally used to protect the soil from winter weather and erosion.

Cover crops mean you will always have some sort of crop growing on your soil, available to use as feed or to sell. Besides protecting the soil, it provides an additional source of income in many cases.

Managing Nutrients

The amount of nutrients in your soil is the most important feature of your land. This will depend in part on where your plot of land is, and partly on how much you do to actively improve its quality. Improvements can be made by mixing different types of manure, since their carbon content varies.

For example, poultry manure has a low carbon content, generally supplying large amounts of P, K and calcium, as well as moderate amounts of N. Seaweed and fishmeal have a very low carbon content, and are generally an excellent source of micronutrients. Soybean has a medium amount of carbon, and is a rapidly available source of nutrients, particularly N and P.


Building a better soil should be your first and main priority as a farm owner. The soil of a farm is the resource on which the entire enterprise is based. You have many options at your disposal for keeping track of its quality and use.


Date:Jan 24, 2020



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