SOIL

Soil protection is the application of means and measures to preserve and improve the soil as natural resource, to restore it in case of damages and protect it from destruction, degradation, and pollution.

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Humus Balance Calculator

The balanced humus state of soil receives more and more attention according to agronomical and economical aspects. First and foremost, humus balances depend on the production level, the soil, the cultivated crops, and fertilisation.

A user has to enter the following initial data into the calculator to find out the current state of the humus reserve:

  • thickness of humus layer

  • organic carbon or humus content

  • soil integration

The importance of soil

Soil is a link between lifeless and living nature and the result of its long-term interaction, which is necessary for the existence of life on land. Soil must be seen as a natural asset in continuous development, in which both the mineral and organic part and the soil biota are equally important. Soil is the only means of production that can become better (i.e. more fertile) when managed correctly. Sound understanding of one’s farm land conditions and the production’s impact on environment are needed for sustenance of arable soils.

Soil formation is an extremely slow process, and it can take centuries for fertile soil to form, therefore the soil is considered a non-renewable natural resource. Of all the land on earth, there is only 1/3 of agriculturally fertile, of which only 1/3 is arable land. It is very difficult or even impossible to design new farmland for the rest.  The decrease in soil fertility has been mentioned in the Estonian Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 as one of the most important problems to be addressed.

In recent decades, acute changes in land use have taken place all over the world. The area under cultivation per person is reduced every year due to population increase, desertification, erosion, deflation, inappropriate use of land, the expansion of cities, impact of mining etc. High pollution level and destruction of soil as the consequence of human activity has led to land degradation in many areas. 

Lack of organic matter, high acidity levels and leaching of essential soil nutrients like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are main causes for loss of soil fertility in Estonia.

Soil protection can be divided into three:

1. Reducing physical destruction of the soil.

2. Implementation and improvement of soil fertility measures against degradation.

3. Classical nature conservation and conservation of wildlife.

In Estonia, there are favourable conditions for nutrient leaching, because the amount of precipitation exceeds evaporation about 1.5 times. In crop cultivation, the nutrients leach the most in a period where the soil is not covered by crops, i.e. in autumn since harvesting the crops to the land freezing.

Contemporary agricultural production comes hand in hand with environmental sustainability. For the functioning of integrated and environmentally friendly agricultural production, the minimisation of soil pollution caused by the use of synthetic plant protection products as well as the preservation of the reserves of soil organic matter and its nutrient capability are essential.