County Ag News

Wasting Organic Matter

The fall raking season is here and I see places where people have dumped leaves and pine needles alongside some of the country roads. What a waste! People are piling up their leaves, pine needles and lawn mulch, and having it hauled away.

The majority of Waushara County has sandy soils that are inherently low in organic matter with less than one percent actual organic matter content compared to dark colored silt loam soils that will normally have an organic matter content of four percent or more. Organic matter is an exceptionally important part of soil. 

The most important thing for improving any soil is to add organic matter. It serves as a storehouse of plant nutrients and improves the water holding capacity of the soil. It improves soil for the growth of plants by promoting soil aggregation and improving soil structure and tilth. There are millions of microscopic plants, animals and fungi that feed on organic matter. 

Frequent additions of organic matter provide a food source for soil bacteria, earthworms and other soil organisms. Organic matter is especially beneficial to sandy soils. Soil organisms are constantly breaking down organic matter in the soil. Soil microbes break down a full 90 percent of the organic matter that is added to soil each year and either returned to the air as carbon dioxide or is reduced to simple chemical salts and water.

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