The Role Of Organic Matter In Soil

Organic matter is vital for healthy soil. The organic matter in soil aids in interactions between soil properties.
The physical properties of soil include soil layers, texture, and structure. Soil layers are the different horizontal zones in the soil.
Soil texture is the proportion of sand, silt, and clay mineral particles. Soil structure refers to the aggregation and arrangement of soil particles with each other. Well aggregated soil drains water properly and exchanges air with the atmosphere to provide an ideal home for roots.
Soil pH, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and mineral nutrients are chemical soil properties. Many gardeners are aware of the importance of nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. However, CEC and soil pH determine the amount of mineral nutrients the soil can hold and whether soil nutrients present in the soil are available to the plant.
Soil organisms can include fungi, bacteria, nematodes, insects, worms, roots, and small mammals. Soil organisms cycle and retain nutrients, aid water infiltration, degrade pollutants, improve soil structure, and suppress diseases.
High soil organic matter feeds and supports high populations of soil organisms. The high soil organism populations produce a ‘microbial glue’ through their bodily secretions, think about the feel of earthworms. This ‘microbial glue’ binds soil particles and makes the soil aggregate together better.
Better soil aggregation improves pore spare for water, air, and plant roots. Improved aggregation and pore space result in optimum soil structure for healthy plant growth.
For more information on organic matter, please visit the Home and Garden Information Center website at hgic.clemson.edu. Tune in on Tuesday nights to watch “Making it Grow” at 7 p.m. on SCETV or mig.org. E-mail Outen at [email protected]
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