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CHARACTERISTICS OF HEALTHY SOIL
Good soil drainage - Even after a heavy rain, a healthy soil will drain more rapidly as a result of good soil structure and an adequate distribution of different size pore spaces, but also retain adequate water for plant uptake.
•   Good soil tilth
•   Sufficient but not excess supply of nutrients
•   Small population of pathogens and insect pests
•   Large population of beneficial organisms
•   Resistant to degradation
•   Presence of earthworms
•   Good pH for crop
•   Good water holding capacity
•   Good nutrient holding capacity
Other characteristics of healthy soil includes:
Low weed pressure - Weed pressure is a major constraint in crop production. Weeds compete with crops for water and nutrients that are essential for plant growth. Weeds can interfere with stand establishment, block sunlight, interfere with harvest and cultivation operations, and harbour disease causing pathogens and pests.
Sufficient depth - Sufficient depth refers to the extent of the soil profile to which roots are able to grow and function. A soil with a shallow depth as a result of a compaction layer or past erosion is more susceptible to extreme fluctuations in the weather, thus predisposing the crop to drought or flooding stress.
Free from chemicals and toxins that may be harmful to crop - Healthy soils are either devoid of harmful chemicals and toxins or can detoxify and/or bind such chemicals making them unavailable for plant uptake due to their richness in stable organic matter and diverse microbial communities.
Page Content Source: Cornell University (2009). Cornell Soil Health Manual. pages 6-7.
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ALMD MICAF
Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries
Government of Jamaica