Soil Evaluation For Desirable and Detrimental Properties

Soil Health Property
Healthy
Unhealthy
Corrective Action
plant appearance lush, uniform, dense, tall, large, sturdy, proper color yellow, stunted, small, poor color, light green, spotty Correct soil problem or test plant for needed actions
soil structure crumbly, loose, holds together, granular hard when dry, doesn’t hold together, lumps fall apart, massive, cloddy, clumpy, tight, compacted, powdery Amend and condition to increase physical properties
roots large, branches and spreads out, white, grows downward, numerous, good penetration, lots of feeder roots won’t penetrate, undeveloped, balls up, grows crossways, discolored, diseased, shallow, short Amend and condition to increase physical properties
soil color dark, black, dark brown, gray, holds dark color when dry orange, brown, light, white, red blue-gray, bleached, sandy color, light brown, pale, anemic Add organic matter
water infiltration water does not stand, absorbs, water moves into soil, soaks, rapid, no ponding water runs off soil, sits on surface, water stands, won’t absorb, puddles, nonporous Amend and condition to increase physical properties
compaction doesn’t pack down, not compacted, remains loose compacted, hardpan, tight, packed, difficult to till Till, amend and condition
earthworms many present after rain or irrigation, holes and castings present, found during tillage not present, no holes Correct soil chemistry and/or correct physical problems, add organic matter
erosion soil will not erode, remains in place blows away, washes away, erodes, causes dust clouds, rills present Amend and condition
drainage water disappears quickly, no ponding, soil dries out quickly tight, waterlogged, ponding, saturated Amend and condition to increase physical properties
ease of tillage breaks up in one pass, mellow, smooth, crumbles, minimum amount of effort needed clods don’t breakdown, lumpy after tillage Amend and condition to increase physical properties
water retention holds moisture, gives and takes water freely, excessive irrigation not needed has too much water, doesn’t hold water, either too wet or too dry, droughty, remains wet Remove surface crust or improve physical properties