Soil erosion is a serious problem for farmers. Some describe it as soil depletion and others call it soil deterioration. Both refer to the loss of structure and/or density within the soil.
Soil deteriorates over time as organisms die or move away, leaving only tiny particles in place. This tiny change in structure can be difficult for plants to utilize, leading to poor success in your plants growth and survival.
Wetness occurs when water moves into the soil, causing some of the particles to wet up and stay that way for a longer period of time. This is typically observed during times of heavy rain or irrigation, which can lead to poor soil stability.
If plants are not receiving enough nutrition from their root system, then they are suffering from starvation which lead to leaf damage and/or loss.
Wetting and drying
One of the most basic ways to help your soil retain moisture is to wet and dry your plants. Many gardening websites suggest taping the bottom of a pot to the floor to further encourage wetness and drying, both.
This is especially helpful if you are using clay pots as some seem to prevent water from flowing out, or even up, the pot. These seem to be the most successful in retaining moisture.
Another way to keep your plants moist is to let them sit in a plastic baggie with water. Just make sure there is enough water in the bag!
If you do not have any of these tools on hand, then you can still save your plants! Try putting a piece of paper or something between your plant and anything that could cause heat transfer or cooling.
Soil creep explained
Soil creep is when soil becomes more difficult to remove from a plot due to continued addition of water and nutrients. This is a natural process, and eventually it can contribute to overhanging vegetation being removed.
When soil is frozen, it takes time for the water in the soil to freeze and/or dilute, which contributes to some soils staying liquid even after beingwarmth or wetness. This also continues to add nutrients into the soil which impacts your plants growth.
After a period of time, the moisture continues to grow and eventually the tree or plant suffers from dryness or Leaf Fall. By then being aware of this issue is key! Make sure to check your freezin, checking annually for evidence of loss.
What is soil composed of?
Soil is made of four main components: rocks, roots, carbohydrate sources, and weathering potential. These elements contribute to creating different soil profiles.
Soil is built from rock material, which assists in holding water and stabilizing the soil. Roots obtain nutrients from the soil and add more material to strengthen the soil. Carbohydrates found in plants secure the soil and help maintain moisture content.
Some of these materials are as recent additions to the land as we are going – plant cells have not yet developed fully– or were previously existing but were destroyed by humans or natural forces.
Rock contributes density to soils, helping them maintain depth when being frozen, thawed, wetted, or dried. This also helps prevent water absorption by the land surface below due to weathering.
What happens when soil freezes?
When soil freezes, it can create a situation where the frozen particles stay trapped in the soil. This is called soil frozen.
If you have ever seen this phenomenon, you know that when it is cold out, the soil can look like a white sheet of ice. This happens because water in the soil stays frozen longer than air dryer dried soils.
This happens even when your freezer is completely empty! It is one of the reasons we always have piles of blankets and towels!
By waiting until Spring to add new seeds and crops, you are potentially giving your food more time to grow. You also prevent any new plants from getting killed by freeze/thawing or pest infestation due to weak soil.
What happens when soil thaws?
When soil gets warm and moist, it usually begins to swell and expand. This is due to the moisture being released which adds more space forroot development.
This process is called soil development. When this happens inside a structure, it can be beautiful! But when this happens outside, it can be scary!
Scary because it looks like water is coming out of the soil. When this happens outside, water may not completely dry up before another rain comes through. This can lead to more risk of damaging the soil again.
Fortunately, in most cases, food sources are fine so far away.
How does water affect soil creep?
As we mentioned earlier, water is one of the most important elements in gardening. There are a few ways to prevent soil from getting compacted and/or drowning your plants.
One way to stop water from draining away is to use a non-reactive water table. A water table is a shallow plate-like piece of material that is placed on your soil at regular intervals to keep some moisture in. When you wash your plants, runoff can get flushed away!
Another way to protect your plants from dryness is to use heavy-duty tape over the drains on your plant irrigation system.
How does salt affect soil creep?
While salt is not an ingredient in most garden soil conditioners, it can contribute to some. Many different salts can change how liquid or dry your soil is.
Some salts are more effective than others when it comes to working as a moisture retention agent. When choosing a salt, look for one that has a fairly high level of sodium in it. This means it has more effect as a moisture retainer!
To use, place the desired amount of salt into your soil and let it work. It takes around six hours for the difference in to show, and then check to see if any water has leaked in.
What are the implications of soil creep?
Over time, soil moves down into your garden. This happens as you let your plants grow and develop over a period of years.
As the soil gets deeper, it adds more space for other plants to grow. When this happens, other nutrients in the ground need to be added. These new nutrients have to be distributed throughout your garden, so they are not limited to one area.
The consequences of overdeveloping your soil can be issues with hardpan and softpan, or bedrock and dry landings. These names describe where these minerals are located on your earth.
If you have very deep hardpan or very deep softpan in your garden, you may want to consider adding thinned out calcium carbonate (aka: Slate) to improve both situations.