SOIL AIR MANAGEMENT Relative to Plant Health

SOIL AIR or SOIL AERATION is a vital process in SOIL MANAGEMENT because it controls the soil level of  BIODIVERSITY and life sustaining gases:

With regard to growing plants in soil and soil profiles many Sports Turf Managers, Landscapers, Gardeners and Golf Course Superintendents focus on the amount of plant nutrients needed to grow healthy plants.  However, it is very important to take into consideration air, water and soil variables that largely increase or decrease fertilizer or plant nutrient yields.  There are significant differences with respect to the amounts of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide available when comparing the soil macropores and the atmosphere. Unlike the relatively static changes in the atmosphere, soil air spaces are much more susceptible to change.  These changes in soil gases can have positive or negative effect on fertilizer efficiency and plant health.

Oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2)

Unlike the relatively low percent change in atmospheric Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide, Soil gases are much more dynamic in their susceptibility to variables. This can have a profound effect on the functionality and productivity of the soil eco-system. Note the percent change in CO2 levels with regard to the atmosphere when compared to the percent change in the soil. If oxygen is the key to a healthy soil ecology one must define the variables which are relative to soil oxygen and Carbon Dioxide fluctuation.

What controls the composition of the soil atmosphere with regard to soil management referencing anaerobic and aerobic conditions and the breakdown of organic material?

organic matter  (sugars) + oxygen ? carbon dioxide + water + energy
Respiration?? Photosynthesis

Variables affecting SOIL AIR or aeration (oxygen availability) are:

  • Consumption of  Oxygen (O2),from Microbial activity and production of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the form of cellular respiration for energy production
  • Soil Make up relative to soil texture, structure,  density, compaction, make up (clay or sand), etc.
  • Soil and water content are major variables relative to gas movement through soil pore spaces. Soil filled with water one must consider the amount of dissolved oxygen within the ground water (relative to temperature and atmospheric pressure)

Mechanisms of gas exchange:

  • Pressure differences between soil air and the atmosphere
  • Flow of gas molecules due to differences in gas concentrations (Chemical Oxygen Demand, COD)
  • Arrangement of empty, continuous pores (primarily macropores)
  • Compaction-high clay content and high water content hence altering the amount of available oxygen.

Conditions effected by low soil oxygen (anaerobic -low to no oxygen content)

  • Reduction of root growth and activity
  • Form of inorganic elements (Denitrification or Sulfate Reduction )
  • Root rotting organisms or anaerobic decomposition are often associated with poor aeration
  • Reduced organic matter decomposition rates
  • Types of microbial production (aerobic nitrogen fixation?Usable Nutrients to plants or gram negative sulfur reducing bacteria ? FeSo4?FeS?Black Layer)
  • Soil color (Oxidized transition metal Fe3+ red color? Reduced Fe2+ blue/green found in anaerobic soils)

Soil Management for Sustainable Aerobic Ecologies

  • Proper irrigation and drainage
  • Stable soil structure (good pore spaces)
  • Reduced amounts of compacted layers

There is no one set way to manage all of the above variables as a life sustaining treatment with one type of Best Management Practice (BMP), however the management of moisture and relative balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen is critical to the beneficial aerobic functionality of plant nutrients and plant health.  Products like Agriox ( work in conjunction with soil air quality management relative to the water resources available considering pH of the soil and groundwater temperature. As carbon dioxide increases in the soil the relative pH will increase acidity.

CO2 + H2O ?H2CO3

The increased acidity of the soil’s water forces the solubility of Agriox releasing molecular Oxygen into the soil profile and creating a more sustainable environment for aerobic microorganisms. Moreover, the solubility of oxygen in water is based on temperature and atmospheric pressure. Likewise the solubility of Agriox is based on temperature as well.  As the temperature increases so does the solubility the life-giving product.

It is also noted that the energy of water movement should be taken into consideration. In soil that is laden with a higher bulk density such as that of clay soils, water is hindered by the lack of pore space or non polar regions (thatch and the like). In order to manage moisture correctly, it is important to choose tools such as that found at Penterra and HydraHawk would be examples of such soil penetrants.  The use of these penetrants increases the movement of water and increases the exchange of oxygen in areas that are laden with Carbon Dioxide CO2.

For more information about how you can increase your soil’s health contact us for a one on one consultation.