CEC is a measure of a soil’s ability to retain and exchange cations. Cations include essential nutrients for plant growth, such as calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+), potassium (K+), ammonium (NH4+), Iron (Fe2+/Fe3+), Copper (Cu2+) and Zinc (Zn2+).

Nutrient leaching

Soils with low CEC have a limited ability to retain and hold onto cations, including essential nutrients provided by fertilizers. As a result, these nutrients can be easily leached out of the root zone and washed away with excessive rainfall or irrigation. This leads to reduced nutrient availability for plants and inefficient fertilizer use. Arktivate contains high amounts of organic carbon as a colloidal substance in the soil, meaning it has a large surface area. This surface area contains negatively charged sites that attract and retain cations, or in this case, the nutrients from fertilisers. 

Nutrient fixation

In soils with poor CEC, certain cations, particularly positively charged nutrients like potassium (K+), calcium (Ca2+), and magnesium (Mg2+), may become fixed or strongly bound to clay minerals or other soil components. These fixed nutrients are less available for plant uptake, and even if fertilizers are applied, they may not be released effectively into the soil solution for plant utilization. Arktivate contains compounds known as chelating agents. These compounds form complexes with nutrient cations, effectively protecting them from being immobilized or washed away in the soil. Chelation helps keep the nutrients available for plant uptake and prevents them from becoming tightly bound to soil particles.

Nutrient competition

Soils with poor CEC often have a higher concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) and other cations, such as aluminum (Al3+) or iron (Fe3+), in the soil solution. These competing ions can outcompete essential nutrients for the limited CEC sites, reducing their availability to plants. As a result, even if fertilizer is applied, the nutrients may be immobilized or unavailable due to the prevalence of these competing ions. Arktivate helps to promote the growth and activity of beneficial soil microorganisms. Microorganisms not just help decompose organic matter, releasing nutrients and byproducts that enhance CEC, but the byproducts of microbial activity, such as organic acids and polysaccharides, also increases the soil’s CEC by promoting the binding of cations to soil particles and promoting nutrient ions that are beneficial for plant growth.