Soil pH

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Updated: December 10, 2021

Soil pH Affects Nutrient Availability

Soils are composed of mineral and organic matter. Weathered rocks provide soil minerals, while organic matter forms from decayed animal and plant residues. An important component of healthy soil, organic matter helps maintain and improve soil’s physical condition. Some of these benefits include increased nutrient and water holding as well as stabilizing structure, which helps soil drainage. Organic matter is in a constant state of transition, continually breaking down and releasing finer, more decomposed particles. This breakdown is caused by scavengers in the soil (insects, earthworms, bacteria and fungi) as they feed on organic matter. These scavengers also become part of the soil organic matter when they die. As long as there are fresh sources of tissue in the soil, the cycle can continue and organic matter levels will stay constant. However, if fresh material is not added to the soil, organic matter will slowly be lost.
Updated: January 15, 2021

University of Maryland Phosphorus Management Tool: Technical Users Guide

Our objective was to develop a phosphorus site index (PSI) that uses readily available information to evaluate the relative risk of P transport from agricultural fields, including vegetable and row crop production and pasture based systems where P may be applied either as inorganic or organic fertilizer. Furthermore, the PSI should be applicable within all physiographic provinces present in Maryland. Phosphorus transport is controlled by site characteristics (e.g. hydrology and slope), climate, and P sources (e.g. manure, inorganic fertilizer, and soil P). The revised PSI, or the University of Maryland – Phosphorus Management Tool (UM-PMT), seeks to include new science relative to site and source factors and highlight management decisions so that the learning opportunities associated with performing a P index are more pronounced. The overall objective is to identify critical areas where there is a high P loss potential due to both a high transport potential and a large source of P, and also to encourage the use of management practices in those critical source areas that protect water quality.