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Effects of Organic Matter In Soil By PROFESSOR M H CUBBON Massachusetts State College Amherst Mass RGANIC matter is the most important material in soil Several properties factors are due directly to organic matter The favorable properties are as follows 1 Organic matter increases water holding capacity of soil 2 Organic matter improves physical condition in soil 3 Organic matter allows more soluble plant food to be held by the soil 4 Organic matter furnishes energy for bacteria The harmful influence of organic matter in soil includes low nitrogen high carbon content which causes a temporary shortage of nitrate nitrogen in the soil purposes Of this twenty tons only about five are dry organic matter the remainder being water Counting only the dry matter 5 tons per acre are equal to 206 pounds per thousand square feet Anyone who has had experience adding peat moss to greens will realize how difficult it is to work 200 pounds of peat into a thousand square feet of surface In order to get that much organic matter into the soil many applications must be made This is a slow process on established greens O R G A N I C M A T T E R IMPROVES P H Y S I C A L C O N D I T I O N O F SOIL J HYSICAL condition of the soil is probably as important as anything else about a green A poor physical condition does not allow air to enter the soil or plant roots to elongate and usually water O R G A N I C M A T T E R A N D W A T E R H O L D I N G CAPACITY stands in or on the soil The mud pie effect means a poor sanitary condition just the opposite from 1 HERE is no doubt about organic matter increas good growing conditions The soil is said to be puding the water holding capacity of soil Soils with dled and such a soil when dry is extremely hard In out organic matter or with the average 5 never fact puddled soil behaves more like concrete than hold more than 4 0 or 2 5 of their weight of like soil especially since it does not allow water to water Twenty five per cent or one quarter of the enter or leave easily and when dry does not absorb weight is more nearly the desirable water content water than is 4 0 What are the things needed for a good mudpie Organic soils muck and peat hold from 200 Soil and water of course The soil must be fine to 3 5 0 or 2 to 3 l z times their weight of water enough to be sticky or plastery Then when the soil A muck soil with 2 5 0 water does not appear to is mixed with water it makes a good paste that can be as wet as a mineral soil which has only 2 5 be molded into various shapes You know how it water by weight Therefore mineral soils with works When this mixture dries the soil remains plenty of organic matter will hold more water set almost the same as cement Such soils are often without seeming wet than will soils without much the driest of all because water cannot soak into organic matter them Water runs off just as it would from a roof The difficulty with this situation is that it is ex Walking and tramping on a soil when wet is the tremely hard to increase the organic matter con best way to puddle that soil Clays are special oftent of soil enough to show much increase in water fenders holding capacity A test made with field soil in Organic matter helps to improve the physical Iowa indicated that any practical application of condition by making it more difficult for clay to manure increases the water holding capacity of bake and pack Because organic matter is so light soil only moderately A twenty ton per acre appli and airy it helps air to get into the soil and prevents cation of manure is considered large for general water from standing and becoming stale 8 February 19 February 1933 The National Greenkee per 9 Sandy soils have too few fine particles in them to make the soils sticky or inclined to bake That is why sands are so much in demand But sandy soils wash badly holds little water and even less plant food Organic matter helps to remedy all three of these conditions The common saying is that organic matter gives body to sandy soils ORGANIC MATTER ALLOWS MORE FOOD TO BE HELD SOLUBLE PLANT IN SOIL all of the nitrogen and also a large amoun t of the phosphorus are held in the organic matter in the soil Whether nitrogen is put on in the form of inorganic or organic fertilizers the part that stays in the soil is tied up with the organic matter This nitrogen becomes available to plants sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly Recent findings have shown that soluble phosphorus is practically controlled by the amount of organic matter in the soil In the southern states no shortage of phosphorus exists if the owners see to it that plenty of organic matter is put into the soil This is a very important matter especially in acid soils where phosphorus is very insoluble PRACTICALLY One thing we can be absolutely certain of the plant food that is in the organic matter can be made soluble by bacteria much more quickly than the plant food in the soil minerals becomes available When chemical plant food is added to a soil containing plenty of organic matter more of the plant food is held by the soil against washing than is the case where little or no organic matter is present ORGANIC q MATTER FURNISHES ENERGY FOR BACTERIA carbon and oxygen carried by organic matter provide energy for most of the organisms in the soil Since it is the job of bacteria to make plant food available they must have something to live on while doing the work Thus it is that bacteria break down organic matter use the carbon and oxygen for strength and life and turn the nitrogen and other plant food into forms usable by plants T rue this is a wasteful process so far as total organic matter is concerned But if organic matter were not worked on by bacteria none of it would reach the point where plants could use it and what would be the use of having organic matter in the soil The bacteria give in return for this energy available plant food and soil conditions favorable for plant growth Carefully worked experiments show that bacteria are not very wasteful of organic HE For smoothest cuttingfastest easy running trouble free most useful and longest service the famous F N UNBREAKABLE QUINTET Fairway Equipment stands alone Smooth o eration is permanently a8Hured with F N Unbreakable TITAN Fairway Mowers and with F N Putting Green l lowers every one is etluipped with the genuine patented F N Self Adjusting …

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