Why should we not burn stubble? How would you know whether your soil is alive or dead?

By: Merikheti
Published on: 12-Nov-2023

The microorganisms found in the upper surface of your soil determine whether your soil is alive or non-living. Dead soil is called barren land. Burning of paddy straw kills the microorganisms found in the soil due to excessive heat, due to which the soil becomes infertile. There is a need to publicize this fact to reduce the problem of stubble burning. No smart and conscious farmer will make his soil barren. For immediate gain and lack of information, he is shooting himself in the foot. Determining whether soil is living or nonliving involves assessing its biological, chemical, and physical characteristics. 

Soil is a complex ecosystem made up of a diverse community of organisms ranging from microorganisms to larger organisms such as earthworms. This dynamic environment plays an important role in supporting plant life and maintaining ecological balance. We will explore various indicators and factors that help us understand the living nature of soil such as.


       1. Biological Indicators

Soil is teeming with life, and a key indicator of its liveliness is the presence of microorganisms. Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes are essential components of soil health. These organisms contribute to nutrient cycling, organic matter decomposition, and disease suppression. Soil tests, such as microbial biomass and activity assays, provide insight into the abundance and diversity of these microorganisms.

         

          Also read: Importance of natural farming and its benefits.     

Earthworms are another important biological indicator. Observation of the presence and diversity of earthworms indicates a healthy and biologically active soil.


         2. Chemical Indicators

          The chemical composition of soil also reveals its vitality. Living soil is characterized by a balanced nutrient content that supports plant growth. Testing soil for pH, nutrient levels (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc.), and organic matter content helps assess soil fertility and its ability to sustain plant life. Organic matter, derived from decomposed plant and animal material, is a major component of living soil. It provides nutrients, improves water retention, and supports microbial activity. High organic matter content is indicative of vibrant and biologically active soil.

  

            3. Physical Indicators

           The physical structure of soil affects its vitality. A healthy soil structure allows proper drainage, root penetration, and air circulation. Soil aggregates, formed by the binding of particles, contribute to a well-structured soil.


Also read: In the diverse country of India different types of soil are found, let us know which of these soils is most fertile.

Observing the texture of soil (sand, silt, clay) can provide information about its physical properties. Living soils often have diverse textures, promoting a balanced mix of drainage and water retention. Compacted or poorly structured soil indicates a lack of biological activity. 

 

            4. Health of Plants.

                 The health and vitality of plants growing in soil are a direct indicator of soil vitality. Lush and vigorous plant growth indicates nutrient-rich and biologically active soil. Conversely, stunted growth, yellowing of leaves, or increased susceptibility to diseases indicate soil problems. Mycorrhizae play an important role in nutrient uptake by forming a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. The presence of mycorrhizae is indicative of a living soil ecosystem that supports plant-microbe interactions. 


Also read: Our soil is moving from low fertility to better productive soil.


   

        5. Respiration in soil.

           Measuring soil respiration rates provides a direct assessment of microbial activity. Microorganisms consume organic matter in the soil, releasing carbon dioxide through respiration. High soil respiration rates indicate an active microbial community and contribute to nutrient cycling.      


        6. Conclusion

           In conclusion, determining whether soil is alive or not involves a comprehensive analysis of its biological, chemical, and physical characteristics. Biological indicators such as microorganisms and earthworms, chemical indicators such as nutrient levels and organic matter content, and physical indicators such as soil structure collectively contribute to the assessment. Additionally, observing plant health and conducting soil respiration tests provides valuable information about the dynamic and living nature of the soil. Overall, a holistic approach that considers multiple indicators is necessary for a thorough understanding of soil livelihoods.