The Use of Compost as a Soil Amendment - Chemical Effects: pH and CEC
Compost is recommended as a soil conditioner, soil enhancer and soil builder. Organic amendment, such as compost, will improve the physical, chemical and biological properties of your soil. Incorporating compost would increase the moisture holding capacity of our Florida sandy soils, thereby reducing drought damage to plants. When compost is added to heavily compacted soils, it will improved drainage and aeration, thereby reducing waterlogging damage to plants. Compost increases the ability of the soil to hold and release essential nutrients and promotes the activity of bacteria, fungi, protozoans, arthropods, mites, beneficial nematodes, earthworms and other important soil microorganisms beneficial to plant growth.
Compost’s pH is near neutral. It has the ability to balance pH due to the fact that it is able to boost Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). Soil pH affects whether nutrients present in the soil can actually be taken up by the plant roots. Nitrogen is most available at a neutral pH because the microbes that convert nitrogen into usable forms of ammonia and nitrate operate based at near neutral pH levels.
The Use of Compost as a Soil Amendment - Physical Effects: Soil Structure and Nutrients
Compost performs two very important, but contradictory functions in clay and sandy soils like we have in Sarasota and throughout Florida. On the one hand it improves drainage in clay soils and on the other hand improves water retention in sandy soils. In both cases what is really happening is that compost is improving soil structure.
Good soil structure-also defined as good tilth-is the basis for any good landscape. Good soil structure has good soil aggregates; small, irregularly shaped particles or clumps. This clumping of material opens up spaces or channels between the aggregates, space which allows air to circulate and water to drain. These channels also provide easy paths for plant roots to follow. Plants in loose, friable soil develop deeper and more complex root systems than do those in heavy soils. Since some nutrients such as phosphorus tend to stay where they are, roots must come to them. A large root system means that the plant can access more of these key nutrients which might otherwise remain out of reach.
A homeowner has many options when it comes to providing a healthy environment for plants. While numerous types of fertilizers can be an effective way to quickly amend soil to grow healthy plants, they contain synthetic chemicals. Compost, on the other hand, is an organic alternative to fertilizers, and a homeowner has easy access to compost. There are pros and cons to both methods of providing plants with nutrition.
Compost application via soil top dressing
Benefits of Compost
Compost, sometimes called "black gold," consists of decomposed organic matter that enhances the soil with nutrients and microbes. Typically it includes recycled material including decayed vegetables, fruit, grass clippings and plant foliage. Compost also has microscopic fungi, mycorrhizae, bacteria, protozoa and nematodes; together with earthworms and arthropods. This mixture creates a symbiotic food web within the soil. The decomposing material feeds the organisms and helps to aerate the soil while also keeping it moist. Compost also helps plants fight disease, helps to prevent erosion, controls weeds and can be mixed with store-bought potting soil. Tightly packed soil, such as clay, becomes easier to work with when you add compost. If you create your own compost, you also decrease the... read article
Compost contains fungi and bacteria that help prevent diseases. The microorganisms in the compost are competitors of the pathogens such as Pythium and Rhizoctonia.
Compost is a 100% organic fertilizer containing primary nutrients as well as trace minerals, humus and humic acids, in a proportion that almost exactly matches plant requirements, and in a slow release form that is available to plants even during the fertilizer blackout periods.
Compost encourages the development of healthy populations of earthworms, beneficial insects, protozoans, arthropods, nematodes and microorganisms.
Increases moisture-holding capacity of soils. A 5% increase in organic matter, in the form of compost, significantly increases the soils ability to hold and store water. Compost will retain ten times its weight in water yet excess water drains off easily.
Compost helps clay soil become more friable and allows air to reach plant roots better thus improving plant growth. This is important in new subdivisions where retention pond excavation material is used to define the building pad of the new home.
Compost is a great buffer. Compost protects soils against extremes in acidity or alkalinity (high or low pH)
Contains growth-promoting hormones. Experiments on wheat, barley, potatoes, grapes, tomatoes, beets, etc. show that even when in very low concentrations (0.01%), humic... read article
Top dressing with compost is meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Top dressing with compost is a responsible process that will not deplete our resources or harm natural cycles.
What is compost? It is the end result of controlled aerobic decomposition of organic matter.
Compost comes from municipal solid waste as in household refuse; leaves, twigs and grass clippings as in yard waste; sewage sludge also known as biosolids; animal manure and food residuals.
Composting is a biological process, where organic wastes are stabilized and converted into a product to be used as a soil conditioner and organic fertilizer.
Composting process takes soil micro and macro organisms together with organic residues, and by adding oxygen and water we get water, carbon dioxide, heat and the compost byproduct.
There are significant benefits in the use of compost top dressing:
1. soil structure is improved, the creation and improvement macro and micro aggregates
2. improved aeration and plant root development
3. nutrient availability, especially nitrogen is available in slow release form
4. reduced erosion and improved soil conservation
5. prevention and suppression of diseases
6. organic matter recycling
7. less landfill waste
8.... read article
The average life of a tree in the landscape is only 8 years due to poor design and planting techniques.
Size is a primary consideration in tree selection. Tree should fit in the available growing space without pruning. This is of primary concern under utility lines as the utility has the right-of-way. Because large trees give a high return in environmental benefits, plant large tree species whenever the space allows. Large trees can be structurally strong if attention is given to structural training while young. Homeowners often desire fast growing trees. However, fast growing species are typically more prone to insect, diseases and internal decay. Fast growing species typically have shorter lifespans.
Suitable routing space is a major limiting factor in tree growth. Poor soil conditions contributing 80% of tree health issues. Unfortunately, many homeowners in landscape design is failed to consider soil limitations in tree selection and planting. Impacts of poor soil conditions include:
- many trees failed to establish or slow to establish
- growth rates will be reduced
- tree vigor will be low, predisposing trees to insects, diseases, and other stress factors.
- Mature size will be smaller
- longevity... read article
Proper fertilization is one of the most important factors in maintaining good palm health and appearance, especially on Florida’s nutrient-poor soils. Potassium and Magnesium are deficient in most Florida sandy soils.
There are a number of fertilizers that typically have 30% to 50% or less of their N and K in a controlled release form, the remainder being water soluble. This means that over half of the 5 to 8 lbs of fertilizer applied per tree is quickly solubilized. If moderate to heavy rainfall or irrigation occurs, this majority of the applied fertilizer is quickly leached through the soil and beyond the root zone of the palms. This fertilizer is wasted from the plant’s perspective, but does contribute to the pollution of our ground water. On the other hand, with minimal irrigation or rainfall, this solubilized fertilizer will remain in the root zone at concentrations high enough to cause soluble salt injury to many species of palms, other ornamentals, and adjacent turf grass.
It is important to understand that the soluble portion, most of the 5 to 8 lbs. per palm applied, is not doing much good. Under moderate to heavy... read article
One of the most critical elements to maintaining your landscape involves a properly functioning irrigation system and a fertilization program that meets the nutrient requirements of your landscape plants.
Fertilization and Irrigation needs for Florida lawns and landscapes please see link
How lawns and landscapes are fertilized and irrigated can have a direct impact on the natural environment.
The basic maintenance of Empire Zoysia lawns will be depended upon soil fertility, rainfall, full Sun and match precipitation irrigation.
Most people do not fertilize their own lawns. They either depend upon mother nature or a professional fertilization company to do the work. Well-maintained lawns are fertilized with the right amount and the right kind of fertilizer for that particular grass species. The fertilization schedule is based on the growing season. In order for the fertilization program to work, the right amount of moisture must be available in the turf root zone.
Under feeding or overfeeding leads to the buildup of thatch and higher stress levels on the turf species.
Water schedule stabilize growing seasons.
Healthy lawns smother weeds. Let's use of herbicides.
Drip/micro irrigation maintenance aims at preserving emission uniformity and efficiency. This can be achieved by operating the system according to design pressures and flow rates while making... read article
When choosing a palm for your landscape, the following considerations should be taken into account:
- Is the Palm being planted for a windbreak or a screen (clumping Palm)?
- Is the Palm being planted for a focal point?
- Does the planting spacing location lend itself to a large, medium, or small Palm?
- Are they overhead or below ground utilities nearby?
- Is the site very sunny or shady, a wind corridor or protected
- How cold is the site? What is the hardiness zone?
- Is the soil deep, fertile, and well drained, or is it shallow, compacted, and infertile?
- Does the Palm have large fruits or fronds that need to be removed regularly to reduce the possibility of injury or damage to - property?
Most palms are grown in containers at nurseries, although larger specimens may be field grown. Choose a healthy Palm for the best results in your landscape. Always purchase from a reputable garden center or nursery.
A high quality Palm has a properly sized root ball for the species and trunk diameter. A trunk free of mechanical wounds is an important consideration when choosing a quality Palm. It is important that... read article