Chalky soil is often problematic; it is not as fertile, holds little water, and high alkalinity affects nutrient absorption. Is it still possible to grow healthy plants? Fortunately, chalky soil can be amended with Wakefield BioChar—a premium biochar soil conditioner so plants can flourish. It is a plant-based, all-natural soil conditioner made entirely from recycled wood that keeps your garden or crops healthier year after year! It works in any kind of soil to deliver more water and nutrients with less work.
What Is Chalky Soil?
Chalky refers to chalk or limestone, lumps of which may be found in the soil and consist primarily of calcium carbonate. It is created from a buildup of sediment over time and breaks down easily.
How to Identify Chalky Soil
Chalky soils vary in structure. Some are heavy; some are light. Many contain stones. While chalky soil may appear gravelly, it can also resemble clay. Gardeners may not need a test for chalky soil identification as the chalk bits are visible. However, vinegar is a key component to test for it. A soil sample placed in a jar of vinegar will froth if it contains chalk due to the calcium carbonate content. Of course, you can generally have your soil tested via your county agricultural agent.
Is Chalky Soil Good for Plants?
As noted above, planting in this type of soil presents challenges. Since it has high alkaline pH levels–a pH of 7.1 and up–only alkaline-tolerating plants will do well unless the soil is amended. Acid-loving plants, such as azaleas, gardenias, and dogwood trees, will not flourish in non-amended chalky soils.
Chalky soils are suitable for plants that do not require high levels of nutrients and need good drainage. Otherwise, deficiencies are common. Plants lose the ability to absorb iron and manganese. Leaf yellowing and inadequate growth indicate nutrient deficiencies. Further, chalky soils do not hold water well. They tend to dry quickly. In hot weather, plants in chalky soil will need extra watering.
How Do You Amend Chalky Soil?
Amending chalky soil is necessary unless you want to limit your garden to highly alkaline plants. One of the best ways is by using biochar with compost. Biochar improves water retention, allowing chalky soils to become more fertile. The types of plants that can flourish in your soil will significantly increase.
What is Biochar?
What is biochar, and how does it amend chalky soil? It is the term for organic material, or biomass, subject to pyrolysis. That involves heating the organic matter at high temperatures in an oxygen-free environment. When the process is complete, biochar is the finished product. In nature, it is produced after a forest fire when layers of vegetation smolder. The smoldering plant matter on the forest floor after a fire has little exposure to oxygen.
The earliest example of biochar improving soil fertility involves the Terra Preta or Black Earth of the Amazon. This soil remains extraordinarily fertile today, 2,500 years after biochar was applied by indigenous people. It has been improving the soil while removing carbon from the atmosphere for all that time.
Greenhouse gases are the number one cause of global warming and subsequent climate change. Fighting climate change is one of the most significant issues of the 21st century.
How Biochar Improves Soil Quality
Biochar improves the quality of all soil types. It increases beneficial microbial activity, which provides the soil with more nutrients. Biochar also aids in water retention and sequesters carbon while lessening the need for chemical fertilizer, and the time needed for composting organic matter.
Biochar treats multiple soil conditions. Incorporating it into the soil can result in the following:
- Erosion reduction
- Excess acidity reduction
- Increased fertility
- Nutrient retention
- Runoff reduction
Learn More From Wakefield Biochar
At Wakefield Biochar, our biochar is made from virgin wood scraps certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC is an international non-profit organization promoting responsible timber management via forest certification.
We can help you improve the health of your soil, no matter the type, with our all-natural, certified organic soil conditioner. Increase crop yields and grow healthier plants with less work. View our full selection of biochar soil health products.