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Visual indicators of soil condition

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What do you see and when?

Milky tea coloured water on surface
  • Milky tea coloured water on surface
  • Best seen after rain
Milky tea coloured water on surface
  • Soils form surface crust & set hard when dry
  • Best seen once soil is dry

What could this indicate?

Pictured: Cloudy water indicating dispersion of soil crumbs.
  • Soil dispersion
  • Individual clay particles separate from one another when soil becomes wet due to excessive sodium and insufficient organic matter binding the soil together.

Pictured: collapsed crumbs indicating slaking.
  • Slaking
  • Soil crumbs break apart when wet due to low organic matter which results in surface crusting. 
  • Often seen dispersion of soil crumbs; collapsed around gateways.

What test can I do to confirm?

  • Soil test with reference to the amount and proportion of sodium compared to calcium, potassium and magnesium.
  • An aggregate stability test. This involves placing small soil crumbs (sized about 5-10mm) into a dish with distilled water and observing their reaction over time.

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