Does Organic Gardening Improve Soil Quality?
The soil is a fundamental resource base for agricultural production systems. Besides being the main medium for crop growth, soil functions to sustain crop productivity and maintain environmental quality. Soil quality is determined by the soil’s ability to perform these functions.
Organic gardening means avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides without necessarily implying that plants are left to fend for themselves.Therefore, it is Merely creating the best possible environment for plant growth using biological processes that create a supply of nutrients to the plants and maintain the structural and biological integrity of the soil.
Organic farming provides sites for nutrient retention by adding compost, animal and green manures in soil. In the process, soil nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium among others are added to the soil.
Several natural soil enhancers used in organic gardening include:
Humus: This basically refers to completely decomposed, stable organic matter. Organic materials are decomposed over a long period of time. Humus has important functions in soil, particularly in enhancing soil structure and water-holding capacity
Growing of cover crops: A wide range of cover crops can be grown to enhance soil building properties. Mixtures of cover crops may be the best way to maximize soil building properties. When allowed to decompose, these cover crops have a large amount of biomass that when released into the soil have benefits. Examples of cover crops include leguminous grasses
Compost: Compost is one of the most stable forms of crop nutrients and is an effective means of building soil organic matter, it is also rich in carbon particularly when produced with carbon-rich materials.
Application of compost or manures is an effective means of building up soil organic matter, feeding a wide range of beneficial micro-organisms that aerate the soil and maintain soil PH levels.
A PH of 7 is neutral while values below 7 show increasing acidity and those above 7 show increasing alkalinity. When natural manures are used, the amount of soil PH is naturally maintained since artificial fertilizers add certain elements to the soil such as zinc and copper which when their levels are high become very toxic to the soil.
Through organic farming, soil organic matter is increased thus making the soil to be healthy and its quality also increased. The Use of natural manures aids in moisture retention within the soil, thus ensuring that the crops being grown in the farming process don’t lose water to several biological processes such as evaporation. This is because the amount of water being retained by the soil is more than the lost amount by several factors. This is especially vital in sandy soils, which have low water retention capabilities due to their well-drained nature.
Building soil quality by the use of organic methods helps increase the soil’s resilience. This is the ability to overcome stress or to bounce back after being disturbed. Crops grown in resilient soils have a better ability to withstand extreme conditions such as drought, flood, extremely high temperatures or pest infection.
Using a case study of a carrot sprout, which is mainly grown in home gardens and known for their sweet taste, we will notice that they are hard to grow and they thrive in areas of minimal artificial fertilizers and thus would do best in organic gardens that use natural means of soil improvement. They would also be best in chilly aquatic conditions considering the amount of moisture needed during their growth to full maturity.
You may have asked yourself this question – what do carrot sprouts look like. Well, carrot sprouts look like grass and can easily be mistaken for weeds in a garden.
Carrots are best grown in sandy soils since the sandy soil is a well-drained in contrast to the high amounts of moisture needed to grow the carrots. The use of organic methods of enhancing the soil moisture retention will ensure that the conditions are similar to that of the best aquatic chiller thus favoring the growth of the carrots even in the well-drained soils.
The growth of carrots is a good indication of how organic gardening is beneficial to the improvement of soil quality and also in the ensuring that the conditions for the growth of several crops are successful, unlike when artificial enhancers such as fertilizers are used.
Advantages of organic gardening
- Stabilizes the soil with time by repairing the soil composition and restoring the soil structure so as to ensure its properties are retained
- Improve with time by using adequate and adaptive techniques to restore key soil functions
- Increase productivity since a number of nutrients provided by the soil are adequate for crop growth
- Provides healthy food supply since the crop produced is by natural means and artificial enhancers are not in the components of the crop which is being grown.
Organic gardening, therefore, does improve the quality of the soil.