Q:

What makes soil fertile?

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Quick Answer

Organic matter and plant nutrients make soil fertile. Healthy soil contains an abundance of organic matter, such as dead plants and animal tissues that decompose and enrich soil as humus. This improves the soil’s texture, as it increases the soil’s aeration and ability to absorb and drain moisture.

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Full Answer

Organic matter provides plenty of nutrients for plants, including potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. With the help of micro organisms, organic matter is broken down into its basic elements before being consumed and used by plants.

Healthy pH also makes soil fertile. Soil pH is the measurement of soil’s acidity. It affects the availability of minerals to plants. Most plants prefer a pH that is close to neutral, while other plants thrive in a more acidic soil. For vegetables, herbs and flowers, a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.2 is optimal.

Fertile soil has good texture. Compared to compact soil, crumbly texture makes it easier for plant roots to grow. Generally, loam soil is ideal for gardens, because it contains plenty of organic matter, has a crumbly texture and retains and drains moisture well. The two other main types of soil are sandy soil, which often drains quickly and retains less nutrients, and clay soil, which has large clumps and a texture that is not optimal for garden plants.

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