Soil Essentials is a practical reference for farmers and land managers covering soil issues commonly encountered at the farm level. Written in a straightforward style, it explains the principles of soil management and the interpretation of soil tests, and how to use this information to address long-term soil and enterprise viability.
This book demonstrates how minerals, trace elements, organic matter, soil organisms and fertilisers affect soil, plant and animal health. It shows how to recognise soil decline, and how to repair soils affected by nutrient imbalances, depleted soil microbiology, soil erosion, compaction, structural decline, soil sodicity and salinity. The major problem-soils – sodic soils, light sandy soils, heavy clay soils and acid sulphate soils – are all examined.
With this information, farmers and land managers will be able to consider the costs and financial benefits of good soil management.
The nature of Australian soils
Nutrient balance in the soil
Carbon in the soil
Nitrogen in the soil
Phosphorus in the soil
Potassium in the soil
Magnesium in the soil
Trace elements in the soil
Sulphur in the soil
Aluminium in the soil
Soil analysis results
Encouraging soil biological activity
Components of soil fertility
When to apply fertilisers to plants
Repairing and preventing soil erosion
Soil structural decline
Water movement in soil
Urbanisation in rural areas
Appendix 1. Preferred pHw ranges for some agricultural crops
Appendix 2. The pH (H2O) scale
Appendix 3. Electrical conductivity (in dS/m)
Appendix 4. Salt tolerance of some agricultural crops showing maximum ECe values in dS/m for no yield reduction
Appendix 5. Total soluble salts
Appendix 6. Chloride (as % NaCl).
Appendix 7. Organic carbon (%) and total nitrogen (%)
Appendix 8. The nitrogen cycle
Appendix 9. The carbon cycle
Appendix 10. Mathematical conversions.
Appendix 11. The organic matter cycle
Appendix 12. The different processes of slacking and dispersion
Appendix 13. Organic matter levels relate to rainfall for surface soils (0–10 cm)
Appendix 14. Nutrient deficiencies in plants: a quick guide.
Appendix 15. Average nutrient contents of animal manures (as a percentage).
Appendix 16. Mineral elements in plants.
Appendix 17. The average composition of the plant.
Appendix 18. The influence of chemical fertilisers on pH
Appendix 19. Physical properties of soil.
Appendix 20. The four main types of structure that occur in mineral soils
Appendix 21. Plant – soil – water required
Appendix 22. Readily available water required
Appendix 23. Cumulative infiltration of water
Appendix 24. Average infiltration rates for some soil type
Appendix 25. Assessing soil texture by feel
Appendix 26. Texturing soils using a soil bolus
Appendix 27. Soil colour
After training in farm management at Dookie College, Roger Hall spent a number of years working on farms in Victoria and the NSW Riverina. He has worked with the Victorian Soil Conservation Authority, the Rutherglen Research Institute and at Dookie College as a soil conservation instructor. One of his many achievements has been a major study on soil management in the Murray-Darling Basin funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission. He now works as a private consultant conducting soil investigations as well as running his own farm, which includes horticultural production of tree seedlings and vegetables.