Black Soil

Black Soil

Black soil is fertile topsoil rich in useful and nutritious micronutrients. Formed over several hundred years under the influence of various factors (climatic, geological, and biological) under conditions of a temperate or temperate continental climate, positive temperatures, alternating moisture, and desiccation.

Black soil is also known as is a humus-rich, dark-colored soil type formed on loess-like loams or clays in a subboreal and moderate continental climate with periodically flushed or non-flush water regime under perennial herbaceous vegetation.

From the information provided, we can conclude that black soil is good for growing vegetables and seedlings in greenhouses. But it is better to mix it with other types of soil, organic and mineral dressings. A good substitute for material in this area is peat soil.

Characteristics and colour of black soil

  • has a rich black color;
  • the soil is oily with an oily sheen to the touch;
  • has a lumpy, coarse-grained structure;
  • in a wet state, black soil is slippery, plastic, you can easily mold a lump from it;
  • in a dry state, it looks like a stone, it is difficult to crumble;
  • weight of 1 m2 of black soil – 1 ton;
  • has neutral acidity;
  • does not contain impurities and debris;
  • leaves a black color on the skin when compressed.


  • Calcium – 70%.
  • Humic acids – up to 15%.
  • Magnesium – up to 20%.
  • Nitrogen, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, and other nutrients are found in lesser amounts.

Black soil is considered the most fertile soil mainly due to the high content of humus – a substance that is formed over many decades in the process of decomposition of plant residues. Therefore, it is impossible to artificially create black soil.

What else is important to know about black soil:

  • Most of the nutrients are found in dark soil with a lumpy structure. It is an excellent breeding ground for plants.
  • Don’t buy material right after heavy rains or early spring. During these periods, it has too high humidity. It can increase the weight of the material, so when you buy, you will, in fact, overpay for water.
  • Classic black soil has a neutral or slightly alkaline reaction. In our material, it can be slightly acidic due to the admixture of podzolic soils. For more information on how to determine the acidity of your soil, how to increase and decrease it, as well as what plants are best planted on different types of soil, depending on the acidity, read our page How to determine the acidity of the soil.

You can read more about these and other properties of black soil on the page How to determine the quality of black soil. There you will also find information on how you can check the material at different stages of the purchase. And we turn directly to the areas of application of black soil.

So, the material is used in:

  • Gardening works
  • Improvement of the territory

Its main function – to ensure optimal p food for plant growth and development, increase crop yields.

For your convenience, below we have compiled a summary table with the main areas of application of the material.

Scopes of black soil How suitable is black soil Alternatives to black soil
Agriculture Growing plants outdoors +++ Fertile soil, peat soil
Growing plants in a greenhouse +++
Improving soil characteristics + Fertile soil, peat soil
Replacing contaminated land +++
Creation of soil mixtures +++
Improvement of the territory For lawn equipment +++ Vegetable soil (for the lower layer), peat soil, fertile soil
For the arrangement of park areas +++ Vegetable soil (for the lower layer), peat soil, fertile soil
For growing flowers in flower beds and alpine slides +++ Fertile soil, peat soil
Reclamation of territories + Vegetable, rocky, overburden, building soil, sandy loam, loam, gruss
Backfilling of trenches, pits + Vegetable soil, gruss, rocky, overburden, building soil, sandy loam, loam

How to read the table:

  • “+++” – the material is well suited for this type of work
  • “+” – the material is suitable, but a better option can be used

Rules for the use of black soil

Black soil does not work miracles; in an instant, once and for all, it will not be possible to improve the soil, increase productivity and fertility. However, many summer residents are mistaken, believing that a complete replacement of soil with black soil can solve all problems.

  • Complete replacement of soil with black soil is possible, but not always effective. If you do not apply fertilizers, do not use humus or compost, then over time, even the most fertile soil will become impoverished and depleted. The nutrients contained in black soil are used by plants for growth, development, and seed formation, so it is very important to replenish them periodically.
  • Another common mistake is to add an excessive amount of black soil for flower and vegetable crops. More is better – not always good. The underdeveloped root system of such plants is not able to loosen the soil and maintain its porous structure. Therefore, too much black soil can lead to soil compaction.
  • It is not worth replacing all the soil with black soil, it is enough just to update the top layer. Or use black soil as fertilizer (especially suitable for sandy soils). A dense layer of black soil is best poured under trees and shrubs. It is recommended to use it as a fertilizer in garden beds, greenhouses, greenhouses, and flower beds of perennial ornamental plants. black soil for fertilization is used in small quantities, mixed with garden soil in a ratio of 1: 3.
  • The nutrients that make up the black soil must be replenished periodically, otherwise, the soil will become infertile.
  • It is better to dig up areas where black soil was introduced with a pitchfork. This will avoid caking and compaction of the soil.
  • Before renewing the soil, you should check its acidity level using test strips.

If the reaction is weakly acidic, additional addition of lime, wood ash, or dolomite flour will be required.

If the reaction is slightly alkaline, it is necessary to acidify the soil. For this, urea, ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate, and other acidic mineral fertilizers are suitable.

Do not assume that black soil is just fertile soil. In fact, its concept is much broader. It cannot be compared with organic fertilizers such as manure or humus, since the concentration of nutrients in them is so high that excessive application of them can adversely affect plant growth. In black soil, all substances are balanced and are in an easily accessible form.

Black soil is characterized by a neutral or close to the neutral reaction of the soil solution, which makes it versatile for growing crops.

Black soil has a granular-lumpy structure, which is resistant to leaching, crusting, weathering, and compaction. Thanks to this structure, optimal water-air exchange with the atmosphere is ensured and favorable conditions for root growth are created. However, according to experts, black soil is not loose enough and requires the addition of sand or peat.


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