Soil improvement without the ability to dig?

Asked August 3, 2019, 8:01 PM EDT

Soil Improvement We have recently moved house and my question revolt around how to improve the properties soil. At my old property, over 20+ years, we diligently worked the soil augmenting it with organic matter in the form of compost and mulch. Our new property appears to have soil with a high clay content, evidenced by high density and low porosity. When water is applied it does not appear to permeate the soil well. Our limited knowledge of soil science suggests the need for the addition of organic matter. Herein lies the challenge, due to the presence of an irrigation system, limited physical ability, and the lack of available time, we are not able to pursue the classic remedy. Is a potential strategy, albeit less effective, to apply a top dressing of compost and allow this to naturally work into the soil? Is my understanding correct that worms and other soil organisms will do this overtime? Is there value in adding a general organic fertilizer at the same time? The essence of my question is too how to improve the soil without the ability to comprehensively dig? I welcome you’re recommendations and greatly appreciate your time.

Multnomah County Oregon soil

1 Response

Thank you for your question. Your dilemma is not isolated, but the ‘solution’ is not instantaneous. You are correct in believing that soil microbes (bacteria, fungi. nematodes etc.) and earthworms will do the work—assuming you add water! Here is the (rather) simple way to improve soil while microscopic entities do the ‘work:’ https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec1561 Good luck!