Soil Amendments are any material added to the soil that enhances its physical, biological and/or chemical makeup for plant growth. This includes pH altering products and material used to add fertility, organic matter and biological activity.
Farms generally use manures, composts, lime and chemical fertilizers as their main soil amendments. Other products, such as seaweed, fish or shellfish waste and bone meal to name a few, have all been used to add fertility to the soil. More recently, there are industrial wastes or by-products such as ash, biosolids and municipal waste which have been recognized and used as soil amendments to improve soil characteristics and provide nutrients for crops.
Livestock are inefficient in extracting nutrients from feedstuffs; 75 to 90 per cent of the major nutrients fed to livestock pass directly through the animal into the manure. If manure is used for fertility, it should be tested for nutrient value and included in your NMP. It is essential that proper manure management practices are implemented, click here to find out more.
Composting is a natural process through which organic material is converted into a soil-like product called compost. The process works with the help of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi combined with air and moisture.
Nova Scotia’s Solid Waste-Resource Management diverts organic waste from landfills. Compostable materials are collected roadside and delivered to centralized composting facilities where contaminants are removed and the material is shredded and composted. The end product is used to enhance soil. There are also other facilities that combine organic wastes such as landscaping waste, biosolids, fish processing waste, etc. to produce a finished compost. For a list of compost facilities in Nova Scotia click here
Lime is a compound of calcium or calcium and magnesium capable of neutralizing acid compounds in the soil. Lime is primarily a soil amendment or conditioner and not a fertilizer.
1. Corrects soil acidity
2. Contributes important plant nutrients—calcium and magnesium
3. Promotes availability of plant nutrients. Many macro and micro nutrients are more available at a neutral pH.
N-Viro (Class A Biosolid)
Alkaline materials are added to dewatered biosolids, mixed, dried, cured and stored, as required. The alkaline materials (cement-kiln dust and lime) raise the temperature and pH of the mixture to levels that together destroy the pathogens, creating a Class A product. You must have a NMP to purchase and apply N-Viro. N-Viro is managed through LP Consulting Limited (902)792-2636.
Pulp and Paper waste is recycled to become a soil amendment. The ash waste from wood biomass combustion has been approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a fertilizer and lime resource for farmers’ fields. Nutrients that were once locked up in the forest biomass are now turned into a soil-liming and fertilizing ash. Click here to read a fact-sheet on Woodash that Alberta Food and Rural Development have published.
You must have a NMP to purchase and apply Wood Ash. Wood Ash is managed through LP Consulting Limited (902)792-2636. Financial assistance for transportation costs have been available from Nova Scotia Agricultural Programs.
Certified Organic Soil Amendments
The Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) recently revised their Directory of Organic Inputs (July 2012). This directory outlines soil amendments, crop nutrition and production aids that are allowed under organic certification. *Contact your certifying body before using any products on your farm.
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