COUNTY AG NEWS

Organic Matter Needed

The fall ritual is underway – people are piling up their organic matter; 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. It serves as a storehouse of plant nutrients and improves the water holding capacity of the soil. It improves soils for the growth of plants by promoting soil aggregations and improving soil structure and tilth.

There are millions of microscopic plants, animals and fungi that feed on organic matter. Frequent addition of organic matter provides a food source for soil bacteria, earthworms and other soil organisms. Organic matter is especially beneficial to sandy soils. Organic matter in the soil is being constantly broken down by soil organisms.

A full 90 percent of the organic matter that is added to soil each year is broken down by soil microbes and either returned to the air as carbon dioxide or is reduced to simple chemical salts and water. Tree leaves, pine needles and grass clippings can be mulched sufficiently even with a regular mower which will allow them to settle in through the grass.

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