How to Incorporate Organic Matter to the Soil


Incorporating organic matter into the soil improves the structure and health of the soil. Organic matter is material that is produced by living organisms. Green cover crops, yard waste and compost are examples of organic matter. Introducing or adding organic material into the soil not only improves fertility, but will also balance the pH level of the soil. According to the Virginia Extension Service, incorporation of organic matter into the soil is an ongoing process since the material is constantly decomposing and disappearing.

Step 1

Conduct a soil test through your local agricultural extension service. Results are generally received within four weeks to six weeks.

Step 2

Add the required amount of agricultural limestone to the soil area as recommended by the soil test results. Adjusting the pH to the correct level will open up the soil for organic matter and release needed nutrients.

Step 3

Till the limestone into the soil with a rototiller or dig the material into the soil using a shovel. Work the soil to a depth of 6 inches.

Step 4

Layer yard waste such as shredded leaves, crop residue and compost onto the soil in late fall. Till or dig this material into the soil to the same depth of 6 inches.

Step 5

Incorporate grass clippings, manure or nitrogen-rich organic fertilizers, such as blood meal, over the early winter months. Till or dig these materials into the soil and allow the matter to decompose. These types of organic materials will release nitrogen into the soil for the following spring planting.

Step 6

Plant cool weather cover crops onto the soil area such as annual rye grass, winter wheat or cool weather legumes. Allow the plants to grow throughout the cool weather season. The plants will also reduce any erosion of soil during the cool rainy season. Till or dig this live plant material into the soil in early spring. The plant matter will add organic material into the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test
  • Agricultural limestone
  • Roto tiller (optional)
  • Shovel (optional)
  • Yard waste (shredded leaves, crop residue)
  • Compost
  • Grass clippings
  • Manure
  • Organic nitrogen fertilizer (blood meal)
  • Green cover crops (ryegrass, winter wheat, legumes)


  • University of Florida: Soil Organic Matter
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Building Healthy Soil
Keywords: green manure crops, fall cover crops, mulch gardens

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.