Jeffry Hill is an expert in fertilizers and irrigation.
Organic matter can have a profound effect on the soil of your garden or yard, letting your plants grow faster and healthier and making your job easier. Regardless of the look and structure, manures, tree leaves, coffee grounds and cardboards eventually transform into rich organic matter which is crucially important for the living soil. Organic amendments can help you improve the structure and tilth of the soil, its compaction, moisture and water retention, drainage, biological activity and nutrient availability.
However, not all organic amendments are the same. For example, saw dust and chicken manure are both organic amendments, but they look, feel and smell differently. This means that they would have a different impact on various soil inhabitants.
Carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio is used to describe this difference. It shows how scrumptious an organic matter is from the perspective of the living soil. It is also known as the “brown-to-green” ratio. Matter with a high C:N ratio has low quality while a low C:N ratio is an indicator of high quality. The “brown-to-green” nickname for carbon-to-nitrogen ratio comes from materials such as fresh grass clippings that have high content of nitrogen and wheat straws that have high concentration of carbon. Such materials are usually used to balance a pile of compost. This name can be confusing because not all “green” materials are green in color. For example, fresh manures, kitchen scraps and coffee grounds all have a high concentration of nitrogen and are considered “green” even though their actual colors vary.
The C:N ratio shows how quickly soil organisms consume organic amendments. Microbes eat high-quality matter very quickly, which helps it release nutrients into the soil and disappear in a very fast manner. Low-quality amendments take a lot of time to release the nutrients. Sometimes microorganisms may actually use nitrogen to consume low-quality food instead of releasing more nitrogen. When feeding the soil, add amendments that have different properties. High-quality amendments will quickly supply nutrients to your plants while low-quality additions will help the soil build organic matter in the long run. Very low-quality materials can become very helpful at the end of the growing season because they can lock up leftover nitrogen in the soil and prevent its drainage.
More and more local non-profit and commercial programs are starting to offer organic amendments to the farmers. You can buy manures and other materials for your garden from a number of stores. Make sure to check the quality and make sure that the materials meet your goals and do not contain any unwanted pests, excessive salts or seeds of weeds. You may not get all the information that you are looking for, but the more you know, the higher the chances of getting a high-quality product. If you want expert advice, you can only contact an expert like Jeffry Hill for a consultation.