If you are a gardener who likes to grow his or her own crops, you may have concerns about soil compassion. After soil compaction, you may need to rework your soil and even buy topsoil by searching for “topsoil near me”. Let’s dig deeper into soil compaction and how it affects your land:
- Soil compaction – Soil compaction occurs when soil particles get clumped together and are pressed down to reduce and remove the pores in between them. This changes the density and the porousness of the soil. Heavily compacted soil has a few large pores with less overall pore volume.
Due to reduced porousness and increased density compacted soil also has poor drainage and water infiltration. Gas exchange also slows down and causes aeration problems for the microorganisms in the soil and plant roots. With that out of the way let’s check out the adverse effects of soil compaction and how it affects your land.
- Positive effects of soil compaction – Soil compaction has numerous effects, mostly detrimental to plant growth. However, there are very rare cases where moderate soil compaction may help. For instance, if you have dry weather, moderate soil compaction can increase your crop yield. If your garden has been compacted lightly, it increases the soil to seed contact ratio dramatically. That speeds up germination.
However, soil compaction mostly affects your plants adversely. When soil is compacted it has less air and moisture that negatively impacts all stages of plant growth including germination, root growth, and nutrient intake.
- Reduced nutrient uptake – When soil is compacted its density increases. Roots have limited strength and become less capable of penetrating denser soil. That’s why Thor formation is poor and shallow in compacted soil. Since root growth is limited, the plant can’t absorb water and nutrients effectively from the soil. This causes several problems in your plants, primarily potassium and nitrogen deficiency. Your plant isn’t able to grow to its full potential.
Due to reduced nutrient uptake, you also need to use more fertilizer for your plants. However, compost is very expensive and takes a long time to make. That makes you rely on chemical fertilizers that pollute the soil and can also mess up the pH level of the soil if you add too much.
- Plant height – As mentioned above soil compaction affects root development. This affects nutrient uptake that hinders the growth of the plant and may not allow it to grow to the usual height. So, when your lawn soil is compacted, that apple tree may remain a dwarf and the evergreen tree may not be able to provide as much shade as you thought.
Due to compacted soil, your plants have less root mass and fewer fine roots. This adversely affects any tall plants you may want to grow in your garden. You may find your crop to be a foot or a few inches shorter than usual after the season ends.
- Reduced yield – Most gardeners don’t garden for self-sufficiency. It’s impractical unless you have a few acres of land and decide to quit your day job and focus solely on farming. However, everyone wants to get a good yield after spending so much time caring for their garden veggies. Unfortunately, soil compaction adversely affects crop yield.
Due to reduced nutrient uptake and crop growth, yield can be reduced drastically. Researchers have found that compacted soil can reduce yield by as much as 60 percent. The crops are also less nutritious since the roots aren’t able to absorb the right amount of nutrients. If you use chemical fertilizers to compensate for nutrient uptake, you won’t get the amazing taste you expect from fresh organic garden produce.
- More labor-intensive – Compacted soil is denser and hence requires more force to be tilled and worked. You’ll find yourself struggling or getting tired quickly with the shovel. While gardening helps to keep you calm and gives you a daily dose of exercise, it becomes unenjoyable when you struggle to work the soil.
- Methods to reduce soil compaction – Soil compaction has numerous adverse effects and that’s why it needs to be minimized as much as possible. Fortunately, that’s an easy feat to achieve. Here’s what you can do:
- Don’t work wet soil – Soil can be easily compacted when it’s wet. When soil is moistened by water it becomes soft and loses some of its structural strength. It can get compacted with a minimal amount of force in this condition. That’s why you should avoid working on wet soil.
- Don’t step on garden beds – New gardeners often break this important gardening rule. Humans exert a lot of force on every square inch of soil. It’s especially true for garden beds that are mostly comprised of loose topsoil. That’s why you should never walk or stand on your garden bed.
- Get steppingstones – While should always avoid walking on garden beds. However, sometimes you need to make your way around the garden to certain spots to care for your plants. That’s why it’s best to have steppingstones in your garden bed. Steppingstones are broad and help to spread your weight so that soil compaction is minimal.
- Don’t till the soil – Don’t believe in conventional wisdom. Tilling does more harm than good for your soil. It ruins the delicate micro-ecosystem in your soil and also makes your soil more susceptible to compaction. Instead, you can adopt low-till or no-till gardening methods. This kind of gardening technique also demands less effort on your part.
Now that you know about soil compaction you know its adverse effects on the plants. It can affect everything from crop yield to the height of your plant and how the plants absorb nutrients from the soil. Make sure you take measures to avoid soil compaction. If you still need topsoil to rework your garden or landscape, you may search for “topsoil near me” and get it from a reputed store nearby.