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Soil Aeration - Organic Answers Column - July 3, 2024


Soil Aeration Methods

 

I get a lot of questions about whether to aerate or not. These come in from both commercial and residential owners. A listener with 60 acres recently asked if it would be worthwhile to aerate prior to applying the organic amendments. Here’s my answer with a little more information:

 

It actually will be beneficial. The amendments and nutrients will become bioavailable more quickly. It’s just a matter of budget. Look into using one of the Aerway tools. You could rent one or hire a contractor to do the work you. The tines of this tool are designed to tear rough holes.

 


Just two of the several large agricultural AerWay aerators

 

Residential and smaller scale commercial landscapes and farms can benefit from any physical aeration, but tools that pull smooth holes aren't as helpful as those that are torn like the Aerway products do. With all mechanical techniques, there is always the worry about damaging utilities, etc.

 


  Homeowners have many mechanical options for aerating.

 

An alternative to machines and small handheld or foot devices is to spray hydrogen peroxide. This is liquid method of aeration and the main technique I recommend for residential projects and as part of the Sick Tree Treatment. Hydrogen peroxide sprayed at the concentration of 1 - 2% starts the flocculation (softening) of the soil, speeds up the effectiveness of amendments and encourages root growth. Only do it once, however. Repeated applications will actually hurt bacteria and other microbes.

 

 

Aeration is only needed when the soil is heavily compacted or completely dead. It opens holes in the soil and lets oxygen and other nutrients in to plant roots. The most convenient method is to hire a landscape contractor to poke holes or slice cuts all over the yard and then do the hand work in the beds yourself. Mechanical aerators are available in all shapes, sizes and features for rent or purchase. Just choose a tool or machine that fits your budget, because the cost ranges greatly. When you get oxygen into the ground, life in the soil and fertility increases. When the soil reaches a relatively healthy condition, the microbes and earthworms will do the aeration for you. Liquid biological products are better aeration long term.

 

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