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Office Of Organic Matter
Soil Inoculation
Storing Nitrogen
The Legumes
The Right Bacteria
Time Of Application


Crops And Methods For Soil Improvement

A Bit Of Arithmetic
A Clean Seed-bed
A Few Combinations Are Safest
A Practical Test
A Southern Legume
A Three Years' Rotation
Acid Phosphate
Acquaintance With Terms
Adaptation To Eastern Needs
Affecting Physical Condition
All The Nitrogen From Clover
Alsike Clover
Amount Of Application
Amount Of Manure

Office Of Organic Matter

The restoration of an impoverished soil to a
productive state usually is a simple matter so far as method is
concerned. It may be a difficult problem for the individual owner on
account of expense or time involved, but he has only a few factors in
his problem. Assuming that there is good drainage, and that the lime
requirement has been met, the most important consideration is organic
matter. A profitable agriculture is dependent upon a high percentage of
humus in the soil. Average yields of crops are low in this country
chiefly because the humus-content has been greatly reduced by bad
farming methods.

Nature uses organic matter in the following ways:

1. To give good physical condition to the soil. The practical
farmer appreciates the importance of this quality in a soil. Clayey
soils are composed of fine particles that adhere to each other.
They are compact, excluding air and failing to absorb the water
that should be held in them. The excess of water finally is lost
by evaporation, and the sticky mass becomes dry and hard. The
incorporation of organic matter with clay or silt changes the
character of such land, breaking up the mass, and giving it the
porous condition so essential to productiveness. Improved physical
condition is likewise given to a sandy soil, the humus binding the
particles together.

2. To make the soil retentive of moisture. Yields of crops are
limited more by lack of a constant and adequate supply of moisture
throughout the growing season than by any other one factor. Decayed
organic matter has great capacity for holding moisture, and in some
measure should supply the water needed during periods of light

3. To serve, directly and indirectly, as a solvent of the inert
plant-food in the soil that is known as the "natural strength" of
the land. Its acids do this work directly, and by its presence it
makes possible the work of the friendly bacteria that are man's
chief allies in maintaining soil fertility.

4. To furnish plant-food directly to growing plants. Even when it
has been produced from the soil supplies alone, there is great gain
because the growing crop must have immediately available supplies.
Many of the plants used in providing humus for the soil are better
foragers for fertility than other plants that follow, sending their
roots deeper into the subsoil or using more inert forms of

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