What Are Traditional Soil Amendments and Why Should You Use Them?

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What Are Soil Amendments And Why Should You Use Them

Soil amendments, inoculants, hydrogel crystals, mycorrhizae, microbes, mycorrhizal fungi, superabsorbent polymers—this sounds a lot like a list of vocabulary words from an advanced graduate course in Botany, but it could also be words you run across when googling how to improve the life and health of your plants, garden, or landscaping.

Maybe you just want a straightforward discussion about soil amendments and move into the fancy stuff later.

You’re in the right spot.  Let’s start with what a traditional soil amendment is and why it’s important.

What is a Traditional Soil Amendment?

A soil amendment, also known as a  soil conditioner, assists plant health and growth. While this is a very simple definition, the science behind it is not (as you have probably already guessed from your search results!). These soil amendments, depending on the type chosen and applied, can affect moisture retention, porosity, pH balance, and so much more.

And while there are numerous kinds of amendments you could use, choosing the right one depends upon soil composition, climate, and the plant itself. Here are some basic soil amendments or soil conditioners…

Traditional Types of Soil Amendments

Some of the various traditional soil amendments include but are not limited to:

  • Fertilizers: Fertilizers give plants nutrients and can come in many forms including manure, peat, or compost.
  • Lime: Lime raises your soil’s pH level thereby making it less acidic.
  • Gypsum: Gypsum is a soft whitish or gray mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulfate which improves aeration of compacted soil and helps the soil drain more efficiently.
  • Sphagnum Peat Moss: This type of moss absorbs water and slowly releases it for use by plant roots. It also provides aeration, lightens clay soil, and adds mass to sandy soil which helps prevent the loss of important nutrients.

And then there’s a soil amendment that transcends the traditional category and could really land in its own category–it’s that revolutionary! We’re talking about Mychorrhizal fungi…

  • Mycorrhizal Fungi Mycorrhizal fungi colonize the plant’s root system and develop a symbiotic association called mycorrhiza. This synergistic association with plant roots through the fungi’s filaments helps draw nutrients and water from the soil that the root system would not be able to access otherwise. It improves your plants’ survival, rooting, water absorption, nutrient availability, flowering, yields and production.

Why Use Them?

The question “Why Use a Traditional Soil Amendment?”, we believe, is inherently answered in its definition. Simply put, soil amendments or conditioners improve the physical nature of your soil thereby helping your plants grow optimally, which we believe, is why you landed here in the first place!

And if you really want to take your soil and plantings to the next level, be sure to use Mycorrhizal fungi!

Stay tuned as we cover a whole host of topics including next week’s “Who’s Responsible for these Dead Plants?”