Wednesday, 21 June 2017



Many different elements in soil are potentially available to plants, and the purpose of soil testing is to estimate them as accurately as possible.

Soil consists of three phases which exist in equilibrium – solid phase, liquid phase and gas phase. The most important equilibrium exists between the soil phase and the liquid phase (soil solution). Plants absorb nutrients from the soil solution. However, the amounts of nutrients in the soil solution are insufficient to sustain plant growth.

When nutrients are depleted in the soil solution, they are replenished from the solid phase of the soil. This occurs through reactions such as dissolution, desorption, oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis or microbial mineralization reactions.

Testing the soil solution alone will underestimate the amount of nutrients really available to the plant, while measuring the total amount of nutrients present in the soil will result in an overestimation of the nutrients available. This is because a large portion of them is strongly bound to soil particles or exists in a form which is not available to plants.

Therefore, to determine the elements that are available for plants in soil, the soil test must quantify a relationship between the solid phase and the soil solution. 

PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETING SOIL TEST RESULTS – Why do Different Labs Give Different Results and Interpretation?

PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETING SOIL TEST RESULTS – Why do Different Labs Give Different Results and Interpretation?

1. Analytical Methods
Different chemicals and testing methods extract different quantities of nutrient from soil.

Therefore, different testing methods are used for different soil properties and conditions. The success or failure of any chemical soil test greatly depends on the mode of action of the extracting chemical, or the extraction method used. The last two must simulate or correlate with plant uptake for a particular soil.

Therefore, different laboratories may give different results for the same sample.

In most cases, even when the numerical results are different, due to the use of different analytical methods, the interpretation is mostly the same in terms of sufficiency levels of the nutrients, i.e. deficient, adequate, high etc.

In case one lab uses testing methods which are not adequate for the specific soil and conditions, the interpretation itself might differ.

For example, at a given soil test level the interpretation may be optimum for one test, but may be interpreted as low or high for another test. This may be very confusing.

2. Procedures
Differences in laboratory procedures, such as different dilution, shaking rates, extraction time, filter paper etc. may also affect the results and lead to differences in the soil test results, even if the laboratories use the same testing methods. 
 Before sending soil samples to the lab

Before sending soil samples to the lab, make sure that the lab you choose uses the appropriate  testing methods for your soil.

For example, two common testing methods for phosphorus are Bray-1 (uses 0.025M HCl and 0.03M NH4F) and Olsen (uses 0.5M sodium bicarbonate). The Bray method extracts more phosphorus than Olsen and is more adequate for soils with pH<7.0, while Olsen is more adequate for calcareous soils.

Swacchta Pakhwada in Environment Ministry Concludes, But Cleanliness Campaign to Continue Uninterrupted Throughout the Year

Ministry of Environment and Forests15-June, 2017 18:07 IST
‘Undertake One Small Environment-Friendly Act Every Day’: Environment Minister

Swacchta Pakhwada in Environment Ministry Concludes, But Cleanliness Campaign to Continue Uninterrupted Throughout the Year
Exhorting the people to undertake one small environment-friendly act every day, Environment Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has invited people to share any environment-friendly act with the Ministry on the website. Addressing a large gathering at the concluding function of the Ministry’s Swacchhta Pakhwada at the National Zoological Park here today, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the Ministry will publicise such environment-friendly acts with the people of the country. The Minister also said that 35 senior officers of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change will work in the campaign together to galvanise it into a peoples’ movement and take the Swacchhta Abhiyaan to 125 crore people of the nation. ‘The officers will involve State forest officers, officials from other institutions under the Ministry, school and college students, scouts and guides, NSS and common people’, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said. The Minister referred to the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of delivering a New India by the year 2022 and added that though Swacchhta Pakhwada concludes today, the spirit of the campaign will continue uninterrupted throughout the year.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan emphasised that today, when the entire world discusses issues related to climate change, global warming and environment protection, it looks with hope towards India. “The world believes that India’s culture and philosophy possesses the inspiration and energy, which can spell welfare of the entire mankind”, the Minister said.

“Protection of environment, forests, nature and rivers has been taught to us by our ancestors. The inherent richness and strength of our culture is our legacy. The day we renew the pledge to protect the environment, we will be able to regain the old glory”, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said.

The Minister pointed that the concluding function of Swacchta Pakhwada has been organised at the National Zoological Park to celebrate the birth of a baby hippopotamus in the Zoo.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Ajay Narayan Jha said that World Environment Day falls in the middle of Swacchta Pakhwada. The Secretary added that like the ecosystem of the environment, the Ministry also has an ecosystem in each state, comprising various institutions – Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Boards, Forest Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India, Zoological Survey of India, Eco-clubs NGOs and this strength needs to be connected to the cleanliness campaign.

As part of Swacchhta Pakhwada, several activities including tree plantation, ‘Shram Daan’ and cleaning of waste were undertaken at NOIDA on June 9, at Lodhi Garden on June 12, at Indraprastha Park on June 13 and in Nehru Park on June 14. Another feature of Swacchhta Pakhwada includes cleaning of four railway stations by the Science Express Climate Action Special train, which is presently running in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Some of the prominent themes of Swacchta Pakhwada include - Plastic free Tiger Reserve/Protected Areas/National Parks, under which all tiger reserves shall ensure cleanliness and be declared plastic free by 31.03.2018; “Bring back waste” along with memories from nature visit; Cleanliness around the lakes and rivers in cities, towns and villages; Five beaches in five States/Union Territories to be taken up for cleaning and to be made “Trash Free”.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also administered a Green Pledge to reuse and reduce the waste, plant more trees and conserve energy and water, on the occasion. Earlier, the Environment Minister and other senior officers planted saplings at the Delhi Zoo.

Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Parameswaran Iyer also spoke on the occasion. Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Smt. Amita Prasad made a presentation titled “Swacchh Bharat-Harit Bharat” to the gathering. Director, National Zoological Park, Ms. Renu Singh gave the vote of thanks.

Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Siddhanta Das, Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Rajani Ranjan Rashmi and other senior officers of MoEFCC, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and hundreds of school students were among those present in the gathering.


(Release ID :165668)


Ministry of Environment and Forests17-June, 2017 15:25 IST


   Asserting that desertification can be tackled effectively and solutions are possible, Union Environment Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that active participation of the local people and cooperation at all levels are the tools to achieve this aim.  The Minister urged the people of Haryana and the nation to become a large force of ‘Paryavaran Rakshaks’ (environment protectors) to fight the challenges posed by desertification, global warming and climate change.  Addressing the gathering at a function to inaugurate Swarna Jayanti Nature Camp and launching of nature awareness and Aravalli conservation campaign in Bhondsi, near Gurugram in Haryana today, to celebrate the United Nations World Day to Combat Desertification 2017, the Minister highlighted that such days are in reality a reminder of the spirit symbolized by that Day. 
Dr. Harsh Vardhan pointed out that modern science & technology and environment can come together to protect the nature.  He referred to the devising of a solar tree by the scientists on an area of 4 sq. metre, which generates 5 KW of electricity.  In the context, the Minister also highlighted the leading role played by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, to form the International Solar Alliance at the Conference of Parties at Paris in 2015 and added that the Government was firmly committed to implement policies on solar energy. 
Dr. Harsh Vardhan urged the people to go back to their homes with the spirit imbibed at the celebrations andwork with renewed vigour for afforestation as a means to combat desertification.  He also said that the picturesque Aravalli range is venerable, not just for the people of Haryana, but the entire nation, and that the people should work with resolve and dedication to make Aravallis more beautiful.  The Minister added that the Central government will extend all possible support to any scheme formulated to realize the vision of enhancing the beauty of the Aravalli range. He reiterated that the people should concentrate on taking small steps to protect the environment. He reminded the gathering not to forget the lessons of environment protection imparted to us by our ancestors and in fact, to use the lessons to protect the nature.
                                               Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan addressing the gathering
  Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister of Haryana, Shri Manohar Lal,said that climate change is having an adverse impact on our lives and is also adding to the desertification of land.  He stressed that afforestation can act as a bulwark to stop the process of desertification of land.  The Chief Minister announced that the forest around Bhondsi area has been renamed as “Chandra Shekhar Smriti Van” in the memory of former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar. 
Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Ajay Narayan Jha, Director General, Forests and Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Sidhanta Das and other senior officers and officials of Ministry of MoEFCC attended the celebration.  Minister for Public Works, Forests, Agriculture & Civil Aviation, Haryana, Rao Narbir Singh, Minister for Industries & Commerce, Environment & Industrial Training, Haryana, Shri Vipul Goel, Minister of Stare (Independent Charge), Food & Supplies and Forests,  Haryana, Shri Karan Dev Kamboj, MLA, Sohna, Shri Tejpal Tanwar, MLA, Gurugram, Shri Umesh Aggarwal, MLA, Pataudi, Smt. Bimla Chaudhary and Sarpanch, Bhondsi, Smt. Durga Devi and people from Bhondsi and nearby areas were among the distinguished ones in the gathering.
A report prepared by Wildlife Institute of Dehradun titled “Mapping Aravallis” on the state of Aravallis was released to mark the occasion.  A short film on the conservation of ‘Goraiya’ (house sparrow) was also screened.  Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Shri Manohar Lal also rode a part of the distance at the venue, on bicycles to spread the message of environment protection and good health.
                                                                     Dr Harsh Vardhan pedalling a part of the way on the venue
Earlier, the Environment Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan and Chief Minister of Haryana, Shri Manohar Lal, witnessed an exhibition on United Nations World Day to Combat Desertification, put up by Haryana government. 


(Release ID :165716)

International Yoga Day Celebrated in Environment Ministry

Ministry of Environment and Forests21-June, 2017 18:16 IST
International Yoga Day Celebrated in Environment Ministry
About one hundred officers and officials in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change participated in International Yoga Day celebrations here today.  

Three sessions - one for senior-level officers, one for other officials of the Ministry.  

Session for senior officers of MoEFCC

A separate session for women was conducted in the Ministry to mark the celebrations.

                                                 Special session for women employees
The sessions were conducted by Yoga Gurus, Shri Jairam Motlani and Shri Jamnaprasad Sahu from Shanti Kunj, Haridwar.  

(Release ID :165810)

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Local Weather Report and Forecast For: Kakinada Dated :Jun 18, 2017

Past 24 Hours Weather Data
Maximum Temp(oC) (Recorded. on 18/06/17)35.6
Departure from Normal(oC)2
Minimum Temp (oC) (Recorded. on 18/06/17)27.2
Departure from Normal(oC)0
24 Hours Rainfall (mm) (Recorded from 0830 hrs IST
of yesterday to 0830 hrs IST of today)
Todays Sunset (IST)18:36
Tommorows Sunrise (IST)05:28
Moonset (IST)12:46
Moonrise (IST)00:26
7 Day's Forecast
DateMin TempMax TempWeather
18-Jun27.036.0Generally cloudy sky with possibility of rain or Thunderstorm or Duststorm
19-Jun27.035.0Generally cloudy sky with possibility of rain or Thunderstorm or Duststorm
20-Jun26.035.0Generally cloudy sky with possibility of rain or Thunderstorm or Duststorm
21-Jun26.034.0Generally cloudy sky with possibility of rain or Thunderstorm or Duststorm
22-Jun26.035.0Generally cloudy sky with possibility of rain or Thunderstorm or Duststorm

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Nutrient Status

Nutrient Status

A healthy soil will provide sufficient nutrients for both plants and soil organisms. It is not just dependent on having nutrients existing in the soil as chemical compounds, it also depends on access to those nutrients. Nutrients can be locked-away from plants and soil organisms because of various soil conditions. The conditions that can influence availability and accessibility of soil nutrients include: soil moisture content; soil porosity; soil conductivity; pH; temperature; and competitive demand between organisms.

Biological activity (including plant growth and development) is dependant on nutrients being readily available in the soil solution. There are 15 elements that are essential nutrients for plants. 

Common deficiencies in Victorian soils

Most soils have limiting supplies of nitrogen and phosphorus for agricultural production. Further, soils in high rainfall areas often have limiting supplies of potassium and sulphur. In some situations these deficiencies have been addressed through the application of fertiliser, in other situations these deficiencies have been intensified by farming practices where nutrients in agricultural products (eg. grain) are removed from the soil and are not replaced. Other common deficiencies include copper, zinc, boron and molybdenum. 

Other factors limiting nutrient access by plants

There can be a complex of factors in one or more parts of the soil profile that restrict access by the plant roots to nutrients. Victorian soils often limit crop access to nutrients because of limited amounts of large soil pores, restricted drainage, poor friability, undesirable quantities of salts, and toxic quantities of elements such as aluminium and boron. 

Managing nutrient supply for agricultural production

From the above it is clear that agricultural production requires careful attention to the maintenance of a reliable nutrient supply. Plant harvest rates, organic matter decline,erosion, weed competition, salinity, compaction, acidification, and fire will decrease nutrient availability. 

What can I do to improve the nutrient availability (fertility) of my soil?

1. Test your soil to check nutrient status
2. Determine and improve possible constraints to nutrient access, such as
  • pH
  • Aeration
  • Drainage
  • Compaction
  • Salinity
  • Toxicities
3. Ensure adequate organic matter in your soil
4. Use fertiliser to supply nutrients to plants as appropriate

Improving soil nutrient supply requires sampling and analysis of the soil, interpretation of analysis results, formulating a recommendation, and execution of the recommendation. The tests must reliably predict soil and plant response to an ameliorant or ameliorating practise. Some tests do this better than others, some have been proven not to do this and some are unproven.

Soil Biology

What is soil biology?

Soil biology is the study of soil biota and the interactions they have with each other and their environment. Soil biota includes four broad groups, based on size:
  • Microflora (e.g. Bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses <5 µm)
  • Microfauna (e.g. Nematodes 10 µm-2 mm and protozoa 5 µm - 200 µm)
  • Mesofauna (e.g. Small arthropods like mites and collembola 100 µm - 2 mm)
  • Macrofauna (e.g. Earthworms and insects 2 mm - 2 m)
Image:  Soil Biology Montage

The soil biota comprises an enormous diversity with reports suggesting there could be greater than 15 000 different species per gram of soil. Much of this diversity, largely from the microflora group, is yet to be classified, however genomic technologies are helping us identify previously unknown soil organisms. Soil biology is represented by all three kingdoms of life: Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya; in nearly all evolutionary branches. With such phylogenetic diversity it goes hand in hand that soil biology also posses an incredible range of functional diversity. 

This diagram highlights how using genomic technologies based on DNA have exponentially increased the number of microbial organisms we have been able to identify.
This diagram highlights how using genomic technologies based on DNA have exponentially increased the number of microbial organisms we have been able to identify.

There are three levels of participation by soil biota in natural soil processes/functions:
  1. Ecosystem engineers (e.g. earthworms, termites & ants),
  2. Litter transformers (e.g. microarthropods)
  3. Micro-food webs (e.g. microbes and microfaunal predators).

Ecosystem engineers

Ecosystem engineers such as ants and earthworms primarily alter the physical structure of soil but also have an influence on the overall rates of nutrient cycling and energy flows. These organisms initiate fragmentation of organic residues and take organic matter deeper into soil profiles. They also create pores that allow water and plant roots (as well as other soil biota) access to deeper parts of the profile.A photograph of a centipede

Litter transformers

Litter transformers such as the microarthropod collembolas are involved in fragmenting plant residues and other organic substances making this material more available to microbes by increasing residue surface area for further chemical degradation and nutrient cycling.Collembola 'grazing' on decomposing plant material
Collembola 'grazing' on decomposing plant material

Micro-food web processors

Soil biota play a major role at all levels in micro-food webs whereby energy is transferred from one organism to another and as a consequence nutrients are recycled through the soil environment. For example, bacteria, archaea and fungi decompose plant litter through enzyme degradation to sequester nutrients and these organisms are in turn eaten by predatory protozoa, nematodes and arthropods. This predation helps maintain specific populations and keeps the predator prey balance in check. At the same time, however, litter transformers are breaking down dead organic matter, including remains of biota from all levels of the food web. 

A photograph of a bacterial
Bacterial colony
A photograph of a fungal hyphal
Fungal hyphal network
A photograph of a fungal spores
Fungal spores forming at the terminus of hyphae

Soil biology is not evenly distributed in soil and occurs in 'hot-spots' associated with soil organic matter. Decomposing residues, (obvious sites for both physical and enzymatic attack by a range of soil biota), the rhizosphere, (the soil zone that surrounds and is influenced by the roots of plants) and macroaggregates are all examples of such hot spots.Fungal hyphae - enmeshing decomposing straw residue
This photograph shows fungal hyphae enmeshing decomposing straw residue where the fungi will secrete a suite of enzymes to break down the structure of the straw.

Organic Matter

Organic Matter

Organic matter is critical for soil health and for soil productivity. It:
  • Provides energy for soil microbes
  • Supports and stabilises soil structure
  • Increases water storage
  • Stores and supplies nutrients
  • Builds soil biodiversity
  • Stores carbon
  • Buffers chemical behaviour such as pH
But, what is it?
Organic matter derives from the growth and death of organisms. Soil organic matter is:
  • The living component of the soil (roots, micro-organisms, animals and plants);
  • Exudates from living organisms; and
  • Dead, decaying and highly decomposed materials.
Organic matter is constructed from cellulose, tannin, cutin, and lignin and various proteins, lipids and sugars. These are all based on chains of carbon molecules which mean that a measure of soil organic carbon can give an indirect measure of soil organic matter.

Decomposed organic matter has a black or dark brown colour and will darken soil colour.

How does it get into soil?
Plant growth is the primary source of soil organic matter. Photosynthesis converts sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into plant material. On death, the plant material is steadily decomposed and progressively incorporated into the soil. 

What is its fate in soil?
Organic matter is a dynamic component of soil. Plant and animal debris is regularly added and carbon dioxide is routinely lost as soil organisms use organic matter as an energy source. This is the soil carbon cycle. If the rate of incorporation is low, or the rate of respiration is high, soil organic matter levels will decline. Thus the level of organic matter in soil is dependant on the balance between inputs and losses of soil carbon.

Soil organisms rely on organic matter as their food source. In doing this some of the carbon chains of the organic matter are converted to carbon dioxide (termed respiration). Organic matter is consequently decomposed. This process of organic matter decomposition is discussed further on following pages.

How is it measured?
The amount of organic carbon present in the soil is used to estimate organic matter. Various experiments have shown that organic matter contains about 58% carbon. On this basis, the following relationship can be used to estimate levels of organic matter.

Organic matter
(% by weight)
Organic carbon
(% by weight)

Why does it matter to soil health?
The primary value of organic matter to soil health is in providing the mechanism for fuelling the soil with energy and nutrients. It provides a reservoir of metabolic energy that enables biological processes to occur.

As plant remains steadily decompose in this part of the carbon cycle, secondary benefits occur. Nutrients are mobilised, soil mixing occurs, and soil structure is improved and strengthened as decomposition products adhere to physical soil particles and build aggregation.

What options are there to change organic matter in soil?
The key to good management of soil organic matter is in the balance between decomposition rate and replenishment rate. Soil organic matter management is discussed further on following pages. 
A Practical Note on soil organic matter and a Quick Reference Guide on how to measure Active Carbon in your soil are available.

Practical Note: Soil Organic Matter
Soil organic matter (SOM) is made up of living plants and animals (roots, fungi, bacteria, macro fauna and micro fauna), plant litter, and all the degraded material from decomposing plant and animal material.
Practical Note: Soil Organic Matter

Quick Reference Guide: Potassium Permanganate Test for Active Carbon
Active carbon is an indicator of the fraction of soil organic matter that is readily available as a carbon and energy source for the soil microbial community (i.e., food for the soil food web). The soil is mixed with potassium permanganate (deep purple in colour) and as it oxidizes the active carbon the colour changes (becomes less purple), which can be observed visually, but is very accurately measured with a spectrophotometer.

What is Soil Health?

What is Soil Health?

Soil is our fundamental terrestrial asset. Along with sunlight and water, soil provides the basis for: all terrestrial life; the biodiversity around us; the field crops that we harvest for food and fibre; and, animal products (such as meat, milk, eggs, wool). Soil provides ecosystem services, enables plant growth, resists erosion, stores water, retains nutrients, and is an environmental buffer in the landscape. Soil supplies nutrients, water and oxygen to plants, and is populated by soil biota essential for decomposing and recycling.
Soil health is the condition of the soil in relation to its inherent (or potential) capability, to sustain biological productivity, maintain environmental quality, and promote plant and animal health. A healthy soil is productive, sustainable and profitable.
Healthy Soils WheelA schematic diagram showing the five major functions of healthy soils.
  • Sustain life and society
  • Resist erosion
  • Provide physical support
  • Cycle and store matter
  • Store and filter water

Soil health is analogous to the concepts of environmental health, human health, plant health, and animal health. Human health is a functional concept that describes our capacity to function, to interact with each other and our environment, and to do this into the future.
Understanding, protecting and improving soil health is critical for managing Victoria's natural assets. Soil health fundamentally links to land productivity and environmental sustainability.

A healthy soil:
  • Supplies nutrients, water and oxygen for healthy plant growth
  • Allows water to infiltrate freely
  • Resists erosion
  • Stores water
  • Readily exchanges gases with the atmosphere
  • Retains nutrients
  • Acts as an environmental buffer in the landscape
  • Resists disease
  • Contains a large and diverse population of soil biota
  • Is not acidifying or salinising
  • Has a range of pore spaces to house organisms, nutrients and water
It is not possible to give a set of chemical, physical and biological characteristics for healthy soil. It will vary depending on the inherent qualities of the vast array of soils that exist. 

A schematic diagram showing how soil health is the balance of inherent soil properties, uncontrollable environmental conditions, and management practices.

Soil Health Schematic DiagramInputs of the following
  • Soil quality (sum of biological, physical and chemical properties)
  • Management influences
  • Sunlight, rain and air
Comparison of
  • Soil condition
  • Specific benchmark condition of "healthy"
Leads to
  • Soil health

It is clear that 
soil management will have a big influence on what level of health occurs.

Soil health postcard

Go out and have a look at your soil

Give your soil a health check

Do you:
  • Test your soil regularly to manage inputs?
  • Make decisions based on soil conditions (too wet, too dry)?
  • Maintain at least 50% ground cover all year round?
  • Minimise cultivation and traffic?
  • Know how deep crop and pasture roots are growing?
  • Walk the paddocks and observe soil conditions?
  • Think about how to invest in soil health as part of the farm business?


THE MEANING OF “NUTRIENT AVAILABILITY”  Many different elements in soil are potentially available to plants, and the purpose of soil tes...