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How to Compost for Clay Soil in Mississippi

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How to Compost for Clay Soil in Mississippi

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Overview

The Delta area of Mississippi is composed of clay rich soil due to a high water content in the area that causes swelling and compaction of the land. Clay is a dense, slow draining soil that compacts easily and does not allow plant root penetration. Adding compost to the soil in the spring is the best way to improve the composition and nutrient value of the soil for planting. The organic amendments will break down over time and produce a darker soil that retains moisture without holding excess water.

Step 1

Test the soil texture to determine whether the soil is clay or loam. Add water to a small handful of dry soil and knead to form a ball.

Step 2

Press the formed ball with your thumb and pointer finger to create a flat ribbon. A ribbon that breaks between 1 to 2 inches in a clay loam and a ribbon that breaks when it is longer than 2 inches is clay.

Step 3

Till or dig clay or clay loam soil to a depth of 10 inches. Use the tiller to work 4 to 6 inches of organic compost, peat moss or manure into the soil.

Step 4

Test the soil after allowing it to settle for several months. Contact your County University Extension office for the soil test procedure and kit. You will get a sample bag and paper work to fill out.

Step 5

Take 10 scoop samples through out the area, mix them thoroughly and place 2 cups of soil into the sample bag. Return the sample to the Extension Office or send it to the location listed on the paperwork.

Step 6

Fertilize the soil based on the soil testing results. The results will tell you the appropriate combination of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium needed for your soil to increase the nutrient composition.

Step 7

Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost to the soil for several years to amend the soil if needed. Clay loam soils will not need to be amended as often.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Tiller
  • Shovel
  • Organic compost
  • Soil test kit
  • Fertilizer

References

  • Finegardening.com: Improving Clay Soils
  • Hometime.com: Soil Conditioning
Keywords: improve clay soil, amend clay soil, add compost to soil

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.