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Organic Farming: How to prepare the soil ?




Soil preparation is critical if you are going in for organic farming. You do not have the liberty of adding a load of chemical fertilizers later if you find some deficiencies in the soil; and the motto for organic farming remains, “do adequate preparation rather than react later”.
Making sure that the soil is healthy is an important first step in the preparation for organic farming. If the soil used for organic farming was earlier used for commercial farming, then you need to spend time to ensure that the presense of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have been removed from the soil (how to do this is a separate post), the duration for which you need to have kept such soil clean before using it for organic farming depends on the organic gardening certification in your country or state, and you should check those regulations.
The steps that you should take in order to get your soil ready are:
– Make sure that there are no weeds, stones, or pieces of other debris in the soil, and that it is ready for next steps
– Do a soil analysis. You can get a proper soil analysis done, or you can look at the rough ways of estimating the quality and breakup of your soil. Soil should have 3 main components (sand – 40%, silt 40%, and clay 20%). The soil should be one that you can compress with your hand, and it forms a solid mass that breaks when you poke it. If it either is unable to form a solid mass, or does not crumble when you apply effort, then the soil either has too much sand, or too much clay. An imbalance can result in the soil not being optimum, with imapct on water logging, or the ability of soil to let plants grow in it.
– You can also take a sample of your soil, put it in a glass beaker or jug of water, and then shake, and then let the soil settle down. The settling inside the glass leaves you with 3 different layers, of sand, silt and clay (with clay on top). The levels of each will slowly start giving you an idea of what is missing, and then you can add more of the missing element to get a better mixture. of course, if you are not able to get a correct mixture, go to the store and ask them for the amount of soil you require (make sure that you specify that you are going to grow organically)
– Look to see how you can encourage the growth of healthy stuff such as microbes, earthworms, etc. They do a lot to make your soil better.
– Read up about the various fertilizers you can add to your soil to make up for deficiencies. This would mean that you need to find out what your soil is missing, and requires some amount of knowledge (or if you don’t have knowledge, either learn, or get somebody who can advise). Be sure that adding some good compost is typically helpful for the soil.
– Learn about crop rotation, so that you plan ahead for the crops you are going to put in the soil, and learn about which plants add which element, and remove which nutrient from the soil. Doing this is essential if you want to make sure that you soil is good in terms of nutrients, not only now, but for the future.
– Soil is improved when you add organic matter to the soil. This means that you should items such as compost, and even some more strange items such as hair (for nitrogen), grass clippings, purchased organic fertilizer, peat moss
– If you can, enable poultry to have free access to your soil. Hens do a fair amount of the manual hard work required, such as removing weeds, adding manure, and undertaking tilling of the soil.

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