Soil Improvers And Their Application. Perlite, Vermiculite, Diatomite, Zeolite. Description, What Is, How To Use?

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Soil Improvers And Their Application. Perlite, Vermiculite, Diatomite, Zeolite. Description, What Is, How To Use?
Soil Improvers And Their Application. Perlite, Vermiculite, Diatomite, Zeolite. Description, What Is, How To Use?

Video: Soil Improvers And Their Application. Perlite, Vermiculite, Diatomite, Zeolite. Description, What Is, How To Use?

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Video: Perlite vs. Vermiculite. What’s the Difference? 🧐👍// Garden Answer 2023, February
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By purchasing a dacha or a house with a garden plot, we do not always get high-quality fertile soil for growing cultivated plants. If the black soil is fertile, it is often so dense that not all crops can be successfully grown on it. If it is light, it is necessarily low-humus and needs additional application of manure, humus. Artificial and natural soil conditioners, which are present in sufficient quantities on the market today, help to get the middle ground.

A mixture of coconut substrate and perlite
A mixture of coconut substrate and perlite

Content:

  • Materials for improving soil properties
  • Artificially obtained soil structure improvers
  • Perlite
  • Vermiculite
  • How to use agroperlite and agrovermiculite correctly?
  • Mountain sedimentary minerals - soil structure improvers
  • Diatomite
  • Zeolite
  • Using coconut waste

Materials for improving soil properties

Why do we need such materials? Can they completely replace natural materials? Will soil quality decrease over time? Let's try to answer these questions.

The structured soil improves the soil environment, helps plants quickly adapt to new conditions, begin to grow, develop, and form a crop in a shorter time. As a rule, cultivated plants grow better on light, breathable, neutral soils. The same qualities, of course, are given to soils by manure, humus, composts. But where to get them in the right amount? This ability is possessed by some rocks and sedimentary rocks and minerals discovered by geologists. They are good adsorbents and have high ion-exchange and catalytic properties. These include perlite, vermiculite, zeolite, diatomite, coconutand others. Soil improvers arrive in stores in sufficient quantities, packed in bags or in the form of briquettes. They do not have a shelf life, they contribute to the rapid structuring of the used soils.

Artificially obtained soil structure improvers

Of the artificially obtained minerals, perlite and vermiculite are most applicable today in suburban areas. They improve the physical properties of the soil: they make it more airy, light, improve the chemical composition, which is especially important when growing seedlings, indoor flower crops, and rooting plants. They are added to heavy clay soil when planting seedlings or seedlings of fruit and berry crops in open ground. They do not enter into any chemical compounds with the soil. Absolutely inert.

Perlite
Perlite

Perlite

Perlite is a volcanic rock that forms during volcanic eruptions. Hot lava chemically reacts with the soil. The resulting obsidian mineral is hydrated by groundwater. The resulting obsidian hydroxide is the mineral perlite, which resembles sand in its properties. By the way, perlite and sand have the same base - silicon oxide, so they are similar in their properties.

Obsidian hydroxide has a variety of green-brown-black hues. After processing, it becomes white, light and porous. Grinding and subsequent heating in ovens transforms the rock into agroperlite, a homogeneous bulk material that is commonly used in agronomy.

Useful properties of agroperlite

Agroperlite imparts porosity to the substrate, increases air permeability, loosens heavy soils, which helps to eliminate moisture stagnation on clay substrates and to evenly distribute moisture in the soil. Improves the water-holding properties of light soils, reduces acidity, slows down salinization. It is indispensable for overfeeding plants. Accumulates excess amounts of nutrients, without entering into a chemical reaction, and then returns them to the ground, where they enter plants under the influence of the work of the root system; that is, it provides normal conditions for the growth and development of plants. Agroperlite is one of the best ingredients in hydroponic plant cultivation.

During soil cultivation, over the years, it is crushed, remaining the physical component of the soil. Environmentally friendly artificially obtained mineral.

Perlite also has an unpleasant property. It is so light that it is dusty when used, so a protective mask is required when working with the mineral. Microparticles of perlite - glass dust, which, if ingested, is not excreted from the respiratory tract.

A mixture of soil and perlite
A mixture of soil and perlite

The use of agroperlite

In country gardening, agroperlite is used for mulching the soil, improving the physical properties of soil mixtures when growing seedlings, in home floriculture. Most often they use one of the components instead of sand in soil mixtures. Agroperlite is used for storing bulbs and for rooting cuttings and shoots.

Vermiculite

Vermiculite also belongs to artificial soil improvers. Ore is obtained from waste ore, which also undergoes thermal treatment in furnaces. During firing, vermiculite swells and breaks down into separate lamellar fractions, resembling mica. In fact, vermiculite is hydromica, which after firing somewhat changes its properties. The resulting material is called agrovermiculitis.

The resulting mineral is inert, does not contain heavy metals, does not enter into chemical reactions with soil minerals. Externally, agrovermiculite differs from agroperlite in color (darker) and in the physical state of the mineral fractions. Does not decompose, does not rot. Over time, from soil cultivation, it is crushed, like agroperlite, and continues to be a soil additive. The main difference is the ability to accumulate water and minerals in the porous structures of fractions and gradually release them later for plants. These properties help to reduce losses from irrigation and improve soil nutrition.

A mixture of soil and vermiculite
A mixture of soil and vermiculite

Useful properties of agrovermiculite

Agrovermiculite, in contrast to agroperlite, contains calcium, potassium, magnesium, very important for the plant world. Rich in silicon, aluminum, iron. They are not available to plants, but they accumulate on the surface of artificial mineral elements in the form of ions (absorption) and, if necessary, are gradually released and supplied to plants. This property, together with agroperlite, contributes to a more even supply of nutrients to plants. Agrovermiculite accumulates moisture entering the soil in significant quantities (up to 500% of its own weight) in porous cells. In the environment of agrovermiculite, like agroperlite, fungal and bacterial diseases, pests cannot live and multiply, and rodents cannot use them for food.

Application of agrovermiculite

The inertness of the material is widely used in agronomy for rooting shoots as a substrate for germinating seeds, for planting vegetable seedlings and garden seedlings of fruit trees and berries. Agrovermiculite lowers the pH of the soil. Large fractions of the mineral are used as drainage when growing flower crops. When mixed in any ratio, they loosen the soil, preventing post-irrigation crust formation (excellent mulch).

Germinating seeds in vermiculite
Germinating seeds in vermiculite

How to use agroperlite and agrovermiculite correctly?

Due to the structural features and properties, agrovermiculite cannot be used for succulent plants. Its ability to retain moisture can cause root rot.

Agroperlite is not capable of accumulating moisture, entering into compounds with the applied fertilizers, therefore it is used in its pure form at 4-5 kg ​​/ sq. m of area for mulching the trunks of adult fruit and berry plants. Under its layer, pests cannot overwinter, diseases develop, mice cannot overwinter. For planting vegetables, the mulch layer on the ground reaches 3 cm, indoor plants - 1 cm.

To prepare the soil mixture optimal in composition, 15% of both minerals from the total mass of the harvested soil are added to the original soil. A quality mixture for seedlings of indoor crops and vegetable seedlings is obtained by mixing peat and agroperlite with agrovermiculite in the ratio (in%) 70:15:15.

For rooting of cuttings of plants in open ground, agrovermiculite with peat (1: 1), indoor plants 2: 1 are used. Agrovermiculite reduces soil acidity, therefore, when preparing a mixture for growing cuttings of indoor herbaceous plants, 2 parts of agrovemiculite are used per 1 part of peat.

When planting seedlings of tree-berry crops, up to 3 kg of agrovermiculite is added to the soil mixture of the planting pit. When transplanting and planting strawberries and strawberries, planting seedlings under a bush, about 1.0-1.5 cups are introduced into the hole and mixed with soil.

For rooting cuttings using agroperlite, a soil mixture is prepared in a ratio of 4: 1. In order not to dust agroperlite, be sure to slightly moisten it before use. Moisturizing will not change the properties of the mineral.

Perlite and vermiculite
Perlite and vermiculite

Mountain sedimentary minerals - soil structure improvers

In addition to artificially obtained minerals, sedimentary rocks and minerals that initially have the property of improving the soil structure (diatomites, zeolites and others) are on sale.

Diatomite

Of the natural minerals for ultralight soils that cannot hold water, diatomite is used. The porous, quartz-rich natural material increases the water-holding capacity of the soil. On clay soils, mixing diatomite with coconut and soil can produce a mixture that will not only reduce soil density, make it lighter and more permeable to water and air, but also have a positive effect on acidity or salinity.

Some minerals are able to retain excess amounts of nutrients and gradually release them to plants as needed. To increase the porosity of the soil, its adsorption properties, one cannot do without a mixture of diatomite and zeolite.

Diatomite
Diatomite

Zeolite

Zeolite retains its positive effect on soil properties for at least 5 years, which is especially important when arranging lawns, replanting flowers, changing greenhouse soils. The porous structure of zeolites is a unique sorbent, "molecular sieve", these properties are used in soil ion-exchange processes. In agriculture, zeolites are used when it is necessary to regulate soil acidity, retain moisture, adsorb arsenic, cadmium, lead, copper from poor soils. It is used for water purification when breeding fish in confined spaces. In Bulgaria, zeolite is used for the cultivation of organic strawberries because of this property.

On acidic, poorly cultivated, marginal soils, it is effective to use zeolites together with coconut waste. You can immediately apply a high dose of mineral fertilizers, which will not be able to overfeed the soil, but will gradually flow to the root system of agricultural crops.

Zeolite
Zeolite

Using coconut waste

Coconut substrate does not contain weed seeds and pathogenic microflora, has neutral acidity. To prepare an optimal substrate for growing seedlings, rooting cuttings, it is enough to mix the coconut substrate with the soil in a ratio of 1: 3, respectively. Using coconut waste as part of soil mixtures, you can not feed the seedlings. When decomposed, the coconut component will serve as a nutritional supplement for seedlings, rooting cuttings, and cuttings.

A mixture of a coconut product with agrovermiculite is recommended by flower growers for flower crops when growing in pots and when transplanting.

Such mixtures are also irreplaceable when growing vegetables and other crops in greenhouses using hydroponics. For the composition of artificial hydroponic soil, a mixture of minerals (perlite, vermiculite, mineral wool, coconut fiber) is usually used.

For growing seedlings, coconut flakes processed with trichoderma are on sale. In such a substrate, the negative fungal microflora does not survive.

Crushed eggshells can be used as additives without pathogenic microorganisms for soil mixtures. For a bucket of soil or rotted sawdust, 1-2 glasses of ground eggshell are enough.

Coconut substrate
Coconut substrate

Dear reader, the article describes the properties of some soil improvers. When using these or those soil improvers, be sure to read the recommendations and follow them when preparing mixtures.

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