Organic matter, created by plants, microbes and other organisms, helps provide proper nutrition in the soil. Read on to explore more on what organic matter is and also explore its benefits.

What Is Organic Matter

Organic matter can be described as the vast array of carbon compounds in the soil. It is created by plants, microbes and other organisms and plays a major role in nutrient, water, and biological cycles. While growing something, it is very important to keep up the quality of the soil and this is directly related to organic matter and vice-versa. More amount of organic matter in the soil will help increase its fertility. It will also help hold plenty of water, which will then be released to the plants. On the other hand, organic matter also gets influenced by the quality of soil. The rate of the mineralization of organic matter can increase if the temperature, oxygen and moisture conditions of soil become favorable for decomposition, which often occurs with excessive tillage. There are many steps, following which one can improve the levels of organic matter in the soil. This article will provide you information on the benefits and determinants of organic matter, along with suggesting a few effective steps to improve its level in the soil.
Benefits Of Organic Matter
Nutrient Supply
Organic matter releases an ocean of nutrients into the soil. Each percent of organic matter releases 20-30 pounds of nitrogen, 4.5-6.6 pounds of P2O5 and 2-3 pounds of sulfur per year.
Water Holding Capacity
Organic matter is like a sponge, with the ability to absorb and hold up 90% of its weight in water. One of the great advantages of the water-holding capacity of organic matter is that it will release most of the water to the plants.
Soil Structure Aggression
Organic matter causes soil to clump and aggregate, which in turn improves the soil structure. With good soil structure, permeability increases, increasing the ability of the soil to hold water.
Prevents Erosion
Increasing the organic matter in soil, from 1 to 3 percent, can help reduce 20 to 30 percent of the erosion, as the water infiltration increases and soil aggregation takes place.
Determinants Of Organic Matter Level
High temperature leads to an increase in the degradation of organic matter. In areas of high irrigation, there is more plant growth and therefore, more residues entering the soil.
Soil Texture
Fine textured soil can hold up much more organic matter than sandy soil, because decomposition happens faster in well-aerated sandy soils. Even the clay particles in it form electrochemical bonds, which help in holding organic compounds.
A farmland that was once prairie will have higher amounts of organic matter deep in the soil, as compared to the lands that comprised of a forest previously.
Position Of The Landscape
Areas with poor drainage as well as lowland areas have lower organic matter levels, as less oxygen is available in the soil for decomposition.
Improve Organic Matter Level
  • Growing cover crops will help a lot in increasing the levels of organic matter in the soil.
  • Tillage speeds up the process of decomposition, by improving the aeration of the soil and causing a flush of microbial action.
  • Proper fertilization encourages plant growth, increasing the root growth. Increased root growth help build and maintain organic matter.

How to Cite

More from