Which Soil Type is Best for Agriculture?


In order to be successful at farming, you need to find the right type of soil for your crops. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all type soil. Different types of soil do better with different crops. Having your soil tested will give you the direction you should take with your crops for the greatest success.

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The Types of Soil

The most common types of soil you will hear about include:

  • Sand – This type of soil holds the least amount of water. You can tell the soil is sandy by looking at its texture. Sandy soil is dryer than any other type of soil and has the largest particles. You can tell that a soil is sandy if you wet it and try to roll it into a ball. Sandy soil will just fall apart. Root vegetables are usually the only types of crops that can grow in this type of soil.
  • Clay – This soil works exactly the opposite of sandy soil. It holds onto the most moisture. Having a lot of clay is not a good thing, but a little bit can help the soil retain enough water. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli often grow the best in this type of soil.
  • Silt – This soil is smooth and holds onto water well, but not as well as clay. Because it holds onto moisture, it doesn’t drain the best, which can be a problem for many crops. Because of its smooth texture, silty soil can collapse rather easily, making it harder to keep the crops thriving.
  • Loam – If you were to look for a perfect soil, loam would be what you want. This soil contains a combination of sandy, silty, and clay soil. It provides crops with the nutrients they need and helps retain the water as needed.

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Testing Your Soil

When you have your soil tested, not only will you learn its type, but you will also learn what nutrients are lacking in the soil. The missing nutrients could help determine what crops would do best in the soil. It also lets you know if there are any crucial nutrients, you should add back into the soil. Typically, soil testers look for:

  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Lime
  • pH
  • Nitrogen
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc

Having the perfect balance of each of these nutrients will provide you with the best soil.

Protecting Your Soil

No matter the type of soil you have, one factor is very important – you must use the soil even after your crops are done. If you have ‘down time,’ you’ll want to plant cover crops. These are crops that protect the soil while you are not using it. In other words, it helps keep the nutrients in the soil so that when planting season comes around again, you have the nutrients you need in your soil.

Deciding which soil is right for your crops really depends on the type of crops you will plant and the environment you will plant them. Finding the perfect soil means finding the one that offers the drainage and nutrients necessary to grow your desired crops.

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