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Facts About Topsoil You Need To Know

There are many different substances that can be found in topsoil. Each of these substances in topsoil can be either beneficial or harmful for the topsoil and for the plants depending upon how much of each substance is in the topsoil. In this article I will discuss each of these substances and how much of each is beneficial and/or harmful.

Soluble salts
Soluble salts are bad for topsoil. If there are unusually high levels of soluble salts, it will be difficult for the topsoil to absorb water. High levels of soluble salts actually have direct toxic effects on many plants. Electrical conductivity of the topsoil solution, or ECe is th3e measurement used to determine what the level of soluble salt is in topsoil. Soluble salts can be removed quite easily by over-watering the soil with low salt water. This removal of soluble salts, or leaching, must be done before anything can be planted in the topsoil. The ideal amount of soluble salt in topsoil is less than 2 dS/m or mmho/cm. If there is more than 2 dS/m or mmho/cm but less than 4 dS/m or mmho/cm, that is an acceptable level of soluble salt. However, if there is more than 4 dS/m or mmho/cm in your topsoil, this is unacceptable, and the topsoil must be drained of the excess soluble salt. Only certain plants will actually grow in topsoil that is near 4 dS/m or mmho/cm.

pH Levels
pH is an indication of what the acidity or the alkalinity, or basic nature, is in soil. Topsoil pH is measured with a pH electrode. Using a pH electrode to measure what the pH is of topsoil is the only way to accurately determine the exact pH of any given soil. There are other means by which people test a soil's pH, but these ways are not accurate. The way pH works is that a pH of seven is neutral; that is it is neither an acid nor a base. If the pH is below seven, it is an acidic substance; while if the pH is above seven, it is a basic or alkaline substance. In topsoil, if the pH is between 5.5 and 7.5, it is ideal. If the pH is between 5.0 and 8.2, it is acceptable. If the pH is below 5.0 or above 8.2, it is unacceptable. Most plants will be able to survive without any problems in pH levels of 5.0 to 8.2. However, there are some plants that will not grow in a pH level higher than 7.0. These plants need the acid. Other plants are extremely susceptible to iron deficiency if they are being grown in soils with pH levels above 7.7.

It is practically impossible to change the pH levels in topsoil, so you should know the pH levels of the topsoil in which you wish to plant, and if such levels are acceptable for whatever it is you are trying to grow in the topsoil.

This is the word used to describe what percentage of the topsoil are clay, sand, and silt. Ideally, there will be the right amount of each one. This will give the topsoil the best ability to retain water and nutrients, aerate properly, drain properly, etc. If there is too much of any of these components, the topsoil will be unable to sustain life. The acceptable amount of clay is less than thirty percent. The acceptable amount of sand is less than seventy percent. The acceptable amount of silt is less than seventy percent. If there is too much of any of these components, the topsoil will not be able to sustain life. While it is extremely time-consuming and expensive to change the texture of a large amount of topsoil, it is possible to add large amounts of whatever is lacking in the texture to help create a proper balance of each component.

Sodium Adsorption Rate
The sodium adsorption rate is the amount of sodium relative calcium and magnesium. Sodium is bad for topsoil, while magnesium and calcium are good for topsoil. Topsoil with a high sodium adsorption rate generally have bad structure and do not retain water and nutrients well. They also tend to have high pH levels and ECe levels. Generally, if the Ph levels and the ECe levels are in check, the sodium adsorption rate will also be acceptable. If the sodium adsorption level in topsoil is less than three, it is ideal. Depending on the texture of the topsoil, a sodium adsorption rate between three and ten would be acceptable. A sodium adsorption rate of more than ten is unacceptable regardless of the texture.

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Source: www.isnare.com