What can adding wood ash do to enhance soil fertility and plant growth?

Updated: Feb 19

crop rows sprinkled with wood ash
ashes to green

This write up does not claim to be a scientific article but more on the generic use of wood ash as a mixture in organic fertilizer .This merely points to the overview of what Farmers advocate and practice vis-a-vis organic fertilizers and organic farming.

Flowering and Fruiting of plants need the right mount of K (potassium) and wood ash is abundantly rich in potassium . Woods ash from trees like KIKAR , CEDAR , PINE ,OAK , NEEM (Azadirachta indica), ROSE WOOD , BIRCH , JAMUN (Syzygium cumini) , MANGO, etc. have more nutrient content in their ashes .These trees are considered among the hardwood trees in the Indian subcontinent , they are not just useful for their material requirement but have immense aesthetic importance for Indian culture across temporal and spacial dimensions.

Furthermore, wood ash which is obtained from untreated natural wood is Alkaline , it helps in Balancing the acidity of organic fertilizers , as humus content in the Organic fertilizers tend to be bit more on acidic side of the Ph scale.

Over use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides along with prolific exploitation of underground water resources over the time turn / ensue the soil acidic . Generally soil Ph scale should be in range of 6.5 to 7.5 , this range seems to work well for most of the vegetables . Soil Ph scale below 6.5 /slightly acidic soil is

beneficial for plants like blue berry ,raspberries , or even Strawberries as they prefer soil ph between 6.5 and 5.5 which is acidic .

Vegetables that grow above the ground are more benefited with wood ash addition to the soil because they mostly require a ph value of soil between 6.5 to 7.5 . On the other hand , tuber vegetables are susceptible to potato scab diseases if exposed to too much wood ash , this common disease causes disfigurement of vegetables like potatoes ,carrots , radishes etc ,even then small amount of wood ash addition is even beneficial for the plant.

Wood ash is even beneficial for flowering plants ,especially in home gardening and kitchen gardening. Many flower plants and home gardening plants get much needed natural carbon and potash from woodash and actually respond very well to it and give excellent flowering than compared to those plants that are not given wood ash.

From the ancient times, agriculture has been the main occupation of Indian subcontinent , but it is only recently that inorganic chemical fertilizer have been introduced in Indian context . In its short span of so called modern agriculture we witnessed green revolution and white revolution ,pink revolution .

The price paid for these achievements is that unless organic "Kheti" is adopted - we may never eat healthy vegetables in the future and one can only imagine the damage it can do to our health .

Taking moral and social responsibility- our modern Organic farmers have ventured on this path for the benefit of the society as a whole . By talking to these farmers I have come to know that despite the challenges that they face, the thing that keeps them motivated is - it is a self fulfilling venture , means it gives them sense of soul satisfaction to continue down the road ,hence it becomes a moral responsibility of consumers towards these farmers and also towards themselves to adopt a organic life style .

How do these farmers apply wood ash :-

  1. Sprinkle by hand - this is the most common method , just sprinkle a thin layer on the ground and keep watering as per schedule. The farmers do not exceed the required limit , which by empirical standard is about half a centimetre thick layer of Wood ash .



2. Infuse in water ;-

In this method wood ash is mixed in water and then sprinkled on plants . This method could also be very beneficial for plants especially if using neem plant ash , as it can even act as natural pesticides and fungicide to protect the plant from damage by pests and fungal infections .

Wood ash acts like a natural pest repellent also (for more information pleas contact relevant authorities or do more research) ,thus acting as a cheap and natural and readily available effective alternative for fighting against pests that damage plants for every farmer or for that matter of fact any Gardener .

3. Mix in the organic fertilizer :-

As already discussed wood ash being rich in carbon , calcium ,potassium ,....has excellent soil acidity balancing properties and also adds carbon content to fertilizer for extra growth to the plant .

This method has an advantage that it gives a very conductive environment for the various vermicomposting Earth worms to grow and proliferate , and thus giving rise to natural vermicompost -which is another excellent fertilizer for the plant .

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