Generally speaking, you can call any substance you add to soil to enhance its current state soil amendment. There are two classifications namely fertilizers and soil conditioners.
What are the Different Choices for Soil Amendment?
Coconut Coir (1 part coir: 2-3 parts soil) These are natural fibers from coconut husks. It is rot-resistant and has an almost perfect acidity for growing crops. This will make a perfect choice for small areas and even places which are not properly ventilated since it does not create bad odors.
Chicken manure (0.0063 pounds: 200 sq. ft.) These are the excreta of chickens used primarily as a fertilizer. This is the perfect choice for most vegetable gardens. You can get abundant sources of this soil amendment if you are actually taking care of chickens. If not, you can always purchase or ask from poultry farms.
Azomite (1 to 2 pounds: 100 sq. ft.) This is a trace mineral (a complex hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate) mined here in our country. It is a great choice if you plan on improving roots.
Compost (1 to 20 pounds: 100 sq. ft.) Is a mixture of green and brown biodegradable materials used by most gardeners. This can be created and utilized in household gardens and even industrial gardens.
Sul-Po-Mag (5 to 10 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) It is also known as K-Mag this is a combination of sulfate of potash-magnesia. This Langbeinite is commercially prepared and is perfect for soils that are do not have adequate Sulfur content.
Kelp Meal (5 to 20 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) Dried ocean seaweeds are the main component of a kelp meal. It is rich in vitamins and minerals which can encourage healthy plant growth.
Sulfur (10 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) Sulfur is beneficial in many ways. Primarily you can get them in different protein sources as they can be found in amino acids. They promote chlorophyll formation and nitrogen metabolism.
Worm castings (5 to 10 pounds: 100 sq. ft.) These are the wastes produced by earthworms. Earthworms eat composts and digest them eventually creating a very efficient soil amendment.
Blood meal (10 to 30 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) For soils that lack nitrogen, blood meal is the best option. This is a pulverized form of blood which can also be used as an animal feed.
Bone meal (10 to 35 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) Instead of throwing slaughter house waste products such as bones, these are being utilized as soil amendments. This is the perfect solution for soils that need phosphorus.
Alfalfa meal (25 to 50 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) Alfalfa plants can be fermented and turned into a natural fertilizer. It encourages flowering plants to bloom faster. If you do not want your plants to be utilized, the hay can serve as mulches and compost alternatively.
Dolomite lime (25 to 50 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) One controversial soil building component is your dolomite lime. Although it has pros, this calcium magnesium carbonate is a prodigious source of magnesium. This means that if your soil is not really deficient of magnesium, it can cause overdosing.
Shellfish meal (30 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) Shrimps and crabs are very good for our taste buds and tummy isn’t it? But did you know that you can also use them as fertilizers? Grind them to create a powder and add it to the soil. You can combine other soil amendments with this such as bone meal.
Gypsum (40 to 120 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) Calcium Sulfate dihydrate or gypsum has been a part the agricultural scene for decades. This type of soil amendment needs water before use.
Green sand (50 to 100 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) This is made of a shallow marine sediment. It is rich in glauconite. This glauconite is a good source of potassium, iron, and magnesium. Unlike other fertilizers, it does not directly nourish the soil with nutrients but it increases the water-holding capability of the soil.
Rock Dust (50 to 150 pounds: 1,000 sq. ft.) This form of soil amendment is also known as rock powders or rock mineral. Sometimes, people call them stone meal, rock flour or mineral fines. By the term itself, this is a pulverized rock which adds hefty amounts of minerals in your soil.
Rock Phosphate (50 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft.) Phosphorite (the other term for rock phosphate) are natural or processed sources of phosphate. This soil amendment, however, does not provide a ‘complete meal’ for our soils. Adding other kinds of fertilizers is needed, nonetheless.
How to choose Soil Amendment?
Although there are so many options to choose from, we should not use amendments to our soil carelessly. In fact, when there is a huge list given to you, you should actually be more cautious. There are things you have to take into careful consideration and we are going to talk about it in succession.
You might think that this is another waste of money and time but you should not have that mentality. This will actually save your effort, time and money in due course. Do not buy fertilizers, soil conditioners or plant growers not until you have assessed your soil.
Soil testing will tell you which nutrients or minerals your soil is lacking. With this in mind, you can now narrow down your choices as to which soil amendment you should buy.
Understand the texture, salinity, and pH of your soil
Whether you want a coarse, or sticky, or in-between, you have to understand how your soils hold water and nutrients. Do away with amendments that have increased salinity as it will not make your soil healthy. On top of the salt content, make sure you know the pH of your soil and chose your amendment accordingly.
Selecting the type of amendment
Given all of the types and subtypes of amendment, conduct a research to determine what best match for the results that you got is. With that in mind, choose whether to use organic or inorganic matter.
Know the prolonged existence of your amendment
Should you be using a soil that decomposes quickly or slowly? Get an amendment that rapidly decomposes if you want to see results fast. On the contrary, go for the slow one if you want to see continuing results. And if you want both outcomes, buy the combination of the two.