The Electrical Conductivity of Soil: Why It Matters to Measure It
As a farmer, you already know that your crop production depends immensely on the quality of your soil. With this in mind, it’s imperative to find ways to know what’s happening in your soil and how you can improve its quality to make sure that you get the best crop yields possible. One of the most popular techniques out there is measuring the electrical conductivity of your soil and coming up with a soil conductivity map. But why does it matter to measure your soil’s electrical conductivity? It helps you Determine the Nutrition of your Soil Electrical conductivity is the soil’s ability to conduct an electrical current, and it is measured primarily to see the availability of nutrients in the soil. If the soil’s electrical conductivity is high as indicated in the soil conductivity map, it means that there are more clay and organic particles in the soil and there are also more cations being held in it. If you want your crop to produce good results, you would be looking for a good amount of sodium, potassium, ammonium, magnesium, hydrogen, calcium and other cations that are beneficial to your crop. It helps you Determine Salt Concentrations in your Soil Salt is an important component of irrigated lands, so it’s normal for irrigation water to contain a percentage of salt. But since too much salt in the soil can injure plants, change the soil's structure, reduce production and cause irreparable damage to your land, it’s very important to know how much salt is in your soil so you can manage it effectively. Electrical conductivity is key to determining soil salt content. This way, it would be easier to find ways to add or reduce the salt being added to your irrigation and to monitor the status of your soil to ensure that salt doesn’t affect your crops. The general rule here is that low EC values indicate a non-saline soil while high EC values indicate strong saline soils. If you have high salt content in your soil, you can add gypsum or elemental sulfur to balance things out. It helps you Determine the Texture of your Soil Electrical conductivity is essential in identifying the texture of your soil. For instance, sand has a low EC while clay has a high EC. Therefore, if you have sandy soil on your farm, you know that it will lose nutrients easily because of its inefficiency in storing cations. On the other hand, having a clayey soil means that you’ll be losing lesser nutrients because this texture holds on to cations better than sandy soil. Wrapping Up As a farmer, it’s important to stay on top of the things that are happening within your farm, whether it’s your crops or the soil under it. Measuring soil electrical conductivity and having a soil conductivity map will help you get a better perspective of your soil’s fertility. This, in turn, will guide you in creating the best soil fertility management practices to ensure that you maintain your soil's good EC levels to keep your crops in good condition and your yields as high as possible. Precision Agronomics is located at 9438 West SR 28 in West Lebanon, IN and is proud to serve: Marshfield, Johnsonville, Foster, Stone Bluff, Bismarck, and the surrounding areas. Contact us today for more information!