Soil is a complex part of the living landscape and has been referred to as the lifeblood of agriculture, being fundamental to the survival and development of the human race by supporting plant growth and hence food production through intensive agriculture and farming…..and trees need soil too!
A natural soil can take centuries or millennia to develop, and healthy soils are essential for healthy plants. This is especially important in urban settings as soils that are disturbed by human intervention can impact a plants ability to survive, but many arborists only focus on the above ground parts of trees.
At Heritage Tree Care we understand the importance of soils and know that many tree and shrub problems in urbanised areas can be traced back to changes in the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the soil profile. That’s why we have an experienced Agronomist on the consultancy team delivering leading plant health care services to our clients.
So, let’s start with the basics in relation to trees and arboriculture. The three major characteristics of the soil that are important for plant and tree growth are physical, chemical and biological.
Physical soil characteristics are those which we can see and touch like texture, colour, depth and structure. These characteristics are important in the supply of water and air to tree roots, allow water and air movement into and through the soil profile, store water for plant growth and also support people, structures, animals and trees!
Chemical characteristics are the soils ability to supply and store nutrients which are essential for healthy trees and plants without loss by leaching. This includes macronutrients and micronutrients and maintaining a well-balanced soil chemistry is essential. Acidity (Ph) forms part of the soil chemistry as well as the cation exchange capacity (CEC) of the soil, which is a rating of how well the soil can hold onto plant nutrients.
Soil biology relates to the microbial population of the soil profile. Bacteria, fungi, nematodes and more all break down organic matter in the soil profile promoting nutrient cycling and the growth of nitrogen fixing bacteria essential to tree and plant growth. Every teaspoon of soil is home to billions of microorganisms.
In short, the importance of soil for urban trees can be summarized as follows:
- Soil is a medium for anchoring tree roots.
- Soil is a reservoir for the storage and supply of water and nutrients.
- Soil is a habitat for bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter.
- Soil is a habitat for insects, worms and other animals that mix soil.
Maintaining healthy soils maximises productivity and thus maximises the general health, condition and vigour of urban trees. Healthy urban trees represent reduced risks and reduced economic costs associated with arboricultural management and intervention which can be a costly process.
Poor soil management leads to degradation of the soil profile and this in turn results in reduced tree health and condition, reduced aesthetic and amenity values of urban trees, increased risks and increased management and maintenance costs.
Heritage Tree Care can provide a full suite of services by our fully qualified and experienced Agronomist and by our AQF Level 5 qualified Arborists offering a plant health care solution to benefit your valuable tree assets and your back pocket. This is a no brainer so call the consultancy team today for further advise.