This photograph shows a healthy soil sample taken by digging a small pit in a field, demonstrating a relatively good soil structure. The grass roots can be seen growing at least four inches below the surface (surface on the right of the photo); there is little obvious compaction; worms are in evidence and the soil is a good colour – it also smelt good and fresh and not stale. Deep grass roots enable the sward to access water, and can source more trace elements and minerals, helping it cope in times of drought and indeed when the ground is saturated, making it stronger and more durable. Aerating is a key task in helping to achieve this.
Getting soil analysed every three years or so is an excellent way to keep a tab of what’s going on, but in between lab tests, keeping on top of any deficiencies can be as simple digging a hole with a spade and looking to see what is in there – lots of lovely worms helping breakdown organic matter? Is the soil sweet smelling and crumbly, or hard, foul smelling and probably anaerobic?
If so, your soil will probably need some help. Help in the form of applying soil conditioners to help its structure and trace elements, harrowing, rolling if absolutely necessary, and scheduling in some aerating to simulate grass root growth and the all important anaerobic digestion of organic materials.
Don’t forget – soil is a living organism!