Three Key Factors Impacting Your Soil Health

Three Key Factors Impacting Your Soil Health

healthy soilGreat turf starts with healthy soil, but what does healthy soil start with? Before we dive into the specifics, it needs to be recognized that for something to have “health”, it must be a living thing. So how can soil be alive? It’s a vital, living ecosystem, full of organisms like bacteria, algae and fungi.  It’s not just a growing medium, but its own entity.

Not only is it living, it’s also got some really big jobs to do. Soil regulates water flow through the earth. It sustains plant and animal life. It filters and detoxifies organic and inorganic materials. It cycles nutrients like Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorous. All of these are critical to environmental health. Soil health can’t be directly measured, instead we must evaluate health indicators. So, if you’re having issues with your turf grass, what should you be looking for in your soil?

Three Key Factors Impacting Soil Health

  1. Physical Indicators. These provide information about soil hydrologic characteristics, such as water entry and retention, that influences availability to plants. Some indicators are related to nutrient availability by their influence on rooting volume and aeration status. Other measures tell us about erosional status. Indicators are measured with available water capacity, bulk density, infiltration, and slaking.
  2. Chemical Indicators. These we can measure directly using laboratory testing. They can give you information about the equilibrium between soil solution (soil water and nutrients) and exchange sites (clay particles, organic matter); plant health; the nutritional requirements of plant and soil animal communities; and levels of soil contaminants and their availability for uptake by animals and plants. Measures of these indicators include electrical conductivity, soil nitrate, and soil reaction (pH).
  3. Biological Indicators. These tell us about the organisms that form the soil food web that are responsible for decomposition of organic matter and nutrient cycling. Information about the numbers of organisms, both individuals and species, that perform similar jobs or niches, can indicate a soil’s ability to function or bounce back after disturbance (resistance and resilience). Here we measure earthworms, particulate organic matter, soil enzymes, and respiration.


Soil and Water Consulting can help you get the turfgrass you want.

Great turfgrass is a function of healthy soil, proper irrigation, and careful turf management. We combine in-depth, scientific analysis with 30+ years of industry expertise to provide you guidance on producing the highest quality turf possible. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us.