Soil cultivation is a digging technique used to improve the condition of soil. It enhances soil structure by reducing compaction.
Any bare soil can be cultivated in order to prepare an ideal seed bed. Fertiliser, manure and lime can be added to grow crops or decorative plants.
To successfully cultivate soil a two-step process must be adhered to. The first part of the process is primary cultivation. This is digging to bury weeds and debris in the soil. This can be a labour intensive process but you can alleviate the physical demands by slowly cultivating the soil. Alternatively, a mechanical rotavator will turn the soil for you.
After primary cultivation, the soil surface must then be prepared so it is ready for sowing and planting. This is called secondary cultivation. A limited amount of cultivation is required as it can be easy to over-cultivate. This can be detrimental to the quality of soil. Digging around plants is ill-advised as this can damage the roots.
Clay soils are best cultivated in autumn. The benefit of this is that it improves the structure of the soil. Performing a dig in August or September means frost can break up the soil during the subsequent winter months. Refrain from cultivating when the soil is wet and is going to coagulate.
For light sandy soils the best time to dig is early spring. When you dig, moisture is lost, so it is essential to perform cultivation prior to the warmest months of the year. You can also cultivate light sandy soils in autumn if the soil is not sodden or iced over.
Good topsoil is essential if you are looking to grow plants. This is the layer that plants roots are in. It is essential to make sure that this it is in top health. Soil cultivation can deepen the level of shallow topsoil.
Soil cultivation is a relatively easy process. It can be used on any soil type to rejuvenate its condition. It can be quite labour intensive but this can be resolved by performing a slow, methodical dig or by renting/buying a mechanical rotavator.