Minerals are a vital source of energy for plants. They can be seen as the ‘essential vitamins’ or ‘dietary supplements’ that help crops thrive – helping them grow faster, produce high yields and resist pests and diseases.
The key to achieving excellent quality crops with very high yields is to have minerals ready in the soil for plant uptake. Plants and all biology do best when given full-spectrum nutrition, including major minerals, secondary minerals, trace minerals and rare earth elements.
For successful growth, plants require specific chemicals derived from different sources, such as:
- Oxygen from the air
- Hydrogen from water.
The other minerals are found in the soil. They are:
- Nitrogen – boosts leaves and general growth
- Phosphorus – beneficial for the root system and the development of buds and seeds
- Potassium – metabolism and resistance to pathogens.
Minor minerals include:
- Magnesium – a chlorophyll component vital for photosynthesis
- Calcium – acts as a building material for cells and a toxic neutraliser
- Sulphur – part of proteins and enzymes.
Along with the minerals already mentioned, plants also use small amounts of boron, copper, manganese, chlorine, zinc, iron and silicone.
The importance of healthy soil
The soil structure needs to be able to support an extensive network of roots, microbe biodiversity and water retention by having an appropriate balance of water, air, minerals and organic matter.
Too often, however, agricultural soils have been degraded and are moderately to severely lacking when it comes to having the optimal physical structure to provide the correct amount of minerals, air, humus and water. Until these basic foundational requirements are met, the crops grown in that soil won’t be able to achieve top yields and quality.
Rich soil is abundant in the macro and micro-elements needed for healthy plants to grow, which is why maintaining a fertile soil is vital to all farmers. High-quality, high-yielding crops start in the soil. So, how do you find out more about the condition of your soil? The answer lies in soil testing.
The goals of soil testing are to:
- Assess the current environment for biology
- Identify and quantify soil constraints
- Monitor soil fertility levels
- Understand the needs of the plants being planted in the soil
- Enhance soil mineral content through the application of relevant soil amendments and specific nutrients.
Testing the soil and understanding how to interpret the results in terms of actual nutrient needs are the starting requirements for producing healthy, high-yield, nutrient-dense foods and feeds.
Brookside Laboratories Inc.’s Soil Health Test
Zylem offers growers and consultants technical support via the superior analytical services of Brookside Laboratories Inc. (BLI). The culmination of nearly 20 years of research in soil fertility, BLI’s Soil Health Tool (S019) has revolutionised the effective analysis and amelioration of soil. The test uses an integrated approach that combines chemical and biological test data and is designed to mimic nature’s approach to soil nutrient availability as effectively as possible, in a lab.
S019 answers some simple questions about the soil:
- What is the condition of your soil?
- Is it in balance?
- What can you do to help your soil?
Get in touch with the Zylem team to find out more about our soil health testing services: https://www.zylemsa.co.za/laboratory-analyses/
Contact us on 033 347 2893 or send your enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.