Farming News

What are Soil Amendments?

by | Feb 9, 2022

Person holding soil

Soil amendments are substances added to soil to improve its physical properties such as permeability, water infiltration and retention, drainage, aeration and structure. The purpose of a soil amendment is to create a better environment for the roots of a plant and maximize quality, growth, and yields. There are two categories of soil amendments – organic and inorganic but the goal of both remains the same. The proper amendment should create a balanced soil environment in which your crops can easily achieve homeostasis. For example, in sandy soils where water retention is lacking you might consider using peat, compost, or vermiculite – amendments with high water retention – to counter the shortcomings of the initial soil.

Plants in soil with soil amendment

Getting results from soil amendments

Most soil amendments on the market are solids such as wood chips, manure, compost and so on. In order for these to be effective they have to be completely and thoroughly mixed with the soil; unlike mulching where the mulch is spread across the surface. Simply burying the amendment also won’t be very effective and will interfere with root growth and both water and air movement. If you are considering a soil amendment but are concerned over labor costs or unsure which one is best for you, check out Growthful.

Growthful is a clear, liquid soil amendment that can be applied in the same application as your fertilizers, herbicides, etc. It can also be applied with no additional labor costs and without the tedious task of mixing (which becomes extra tedious when you are running a fairly large operation), just use any of your current application methods from dripline to aerial and everything in between.

Soil amendment being mixed into soil

Important Tips

  • When considering a soil amendment pay attention to the salt content as too much salt in the soil can cause salt burn of roots and death of landscape and plants. One amendment known for its high salt content is manure.
  • Wood products can tie up nitrogen in the soil and result in a nitrogen deficiency amongst other issues, this risk is especially high with saw dust. Compost your wood products before using them as an amendment.
  • Don’t add sand to clay soil, you will end up with a soil structure similar to concrete.
  • Organic mulches can be used as amendments but only after they have decomposed.

Learn more about solid amendments in this article by Colorado State University.