Understanding Soil Compaction and the Importance of Soil Colloid Health: Insights from Agraforum New Zealand, Canterbury

Agraforum New Zealand, a pioneer in soil health innovations, delves deep into the complex issue of soil compaction, a critical limiting factor in successful agricultural production. By focusing on the molecular and electrical dynamics of soil colloids, Agraforum provides a clearer understanding and solution path for farmers globally.

Soil compaction occurs when soil colloids, the smallest particles in soil, lose their electrical charge. These colloids are not just tiny granules of earth; they are electrically charged entities that play a pivotal role in soil structure. Each colloid carries an internal charge that holds it together and an external charge that attracts minerals, particularly cations. These cations, along with anions, form a cloud around the colloid, facilitating the bridging between colloids to form aggregates. This aggregation is crucial as it determines the soil’s ability to support healthy plant life by allowing adequate air and water flow and supporting nutrient uptake.

However, compaction disrupts this delicate balance. Common agricultural practices such as the use of heavy equipment and excessive application of certain fertilisers can degrade the electrical bonds within the colloid clouds. Salts, sodium, sulfates, and even the overuse of pesticides contribute to this degradation. As the soil colloids disperse, they mimic dispersed tiny magnets, unable to cling together, thus severely diminishing soil structure. This results in dispersive soils that are prone to erosion and poor crop growth due to the exclusion of essential oxygen and the cessation of biological activity within the soil.

Agraforum New Zealand’s approach to combatting soil compaction involves addressing the mineral balances surrounding the soil colloid, with a particular emphasis on calcium. Calcium’s strong electrical presence helps maintain the cloud around the colloids, encouraging aggregation and thereby restoring soil structure. This process reintroduces oxygen into the soil, creating a conducive environment for beneficial microbes.

These microbes, particularly mycorrhizal fungi, excrete glomalin, a substance critical to further soil aggregation. While glomalin plays a significant role in improving soil health, it is not the initial step. The first crucial step is ensuring the mineral balance around the colloids is optimal, specifically dominated by available calcium.

Agraforum New Zealand offers products that help farmers adjust these balances, significantly reducing the need for excessive fertilisation and irrigation, while enhancing plant resilience and productivity. By focusing on the underlying causes rather than merely addressing the symptoms of soil compaction, Agraforum empowers farmers to build sustainable and productive farming systems.

Contact Agraforum New Zealand

Mobile: 0274 485 159
Email: allan@agraforum.co.nz


Contact Phillip Quay
P: 0274 587 724

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