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I finally got my soil sample test results back and the results are…. Interesting.

 
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I finally got my soil sample test results back and the results are…. Interesting.
                                                                                              Modified          AB-DTPA       NaHCO3                                                                                                                 Hot             AB-DTPA
                                        Estimate             Estimate                 Walkley Black  Extract ExtracT              -------------------------AB-DTPA Extract--------------------------------     Water            Extract
                       EC                                                                   Organic           Nitrate       Phosphorus        Phosphorus       Potassium Zinc       Iron  Manganese  Copper         Boron        Sulfur
Sample ID pH    Salts          Excess         Texture Estimate      MatteR            N               P                        P                     K              Zn        Fe     Mn              Cu               B                  S
                       mmhos/cm Lime                                                %            ppm           ppm                     ppm                ppm          ppm      ppm  ppm            ppm             ppm              ppm
1 AI          8.0    1.1         very high         clay loam                 1.1                 13            19.5                    11.3               246            0.2      8.9    2.1                 1.7               0.81               1186
2 60AB      8.1    0.5         very high         clay loam                 1.4                 9             19.7                    11.7              374               0.2     8.0    1.4               1.7                 0.53               3769
3 240        7.7    0.8         very high         clay loam                 2.1                 24           29.4                    15.4              303              0.6     18.0  2.9               1.6                 0.18               133
4 490AD    7.6    1.2         very high          clay loam                1.0                 4             5.6                      3.0               98               0.1        3.6    1.1               0.9                 0.16               395

The Sample ID corresponds to the USGS soil map areas of the property but at a high level:
-AI was pulled from the alkali “slicks” that are low spots where grass won’t grow.  
-60AB are areas that used to be operational oat and hey fields but have not been actively irrigated in at least 20 years (other than overflow from the neighbors).
-240 is the back 40 where there are has been more recent irrigation plus seepage from the canal.  This was the only sample that really smelled like soil and the OM and nutrients reflect that.
-490AD this was pulled from the south end of the property above the canal and has never been irrigated.

As I expected, the PH is a bit on the alkali (free baking soda) but the salt levels are a lot less than I was expecting, even in the “Slick”.  I had assumed the plant difference was due to PH and salt but based on these numbers I wonder if it’s something else since.  Maybe it’s because these areas are getting saturated with standing water and if I can get the drainage sorted out and start planting the right plants I can make the slicks productive.  
The number I’m really confused about is the sulfur, especially in the former oat field.  I’m wondering if I can get the irrigation back functioning if the soil bacteria will be able to get the pH back closer to neutral by using up that free sulfur.


I need to do some reading of Dr. Redhawk’s soils series to figure out what I can do to kickstart the biology.
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Soil Region Map
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Slick at the North Edge
Chart.JPG
[Thumbnail for Chart.JPG]
Results
 
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Alex, it looks like you need lots of micros, wow. Cu Fe Zn are basically not even there. Sulfur is off the charts. Did they give you magnesium? Or selenium (I am guessing this is selenium toxicity).

If you can get rock dust from a semi local site you might get closer. I use a cheap local granite and add zinc, which is the only real deficiency. Plus it is low in boron, which limits how much you can apply in some basalts.

Well at least you can grow onions like a maniac.
 
Alex Arn
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Alex, it looks like you need lots of micros, wow. Cu Fe Zn are basically not even there. Sulfur is off the charts. Did they give you magnesium? Or selenium (I am guessing this is selenium toxicity).

If you can get rock dust from a semi local site you might get closer. I use a cheap local granite and add zinc, which is the only real deficiency. Plus it is low in boron, which limits how much you can apply in some basalts.

Well at least you can grow onions like a maniac.



No this was everything in the report, it was just the Routine report from Colorado State and I don't see magnesium or selenium testing as options.  What makes you think selenium toxicity?
 
Tj Jefferson
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Common in alkali flats out west. I'm from there.
 
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I think if you incorporate lots of organic matter, you will bring a lot of those deficiencies to workable levels. Your organic levels are at 1.1%...holy crap!

I did not readily see a number for arsenic. Do you know if that was checked? In looking at the numbers, it looked like that would be rather high too.


 
Alex Arn
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Travis Johnson wrote:I think if you incorporate lots of organic matter, you will bring a lot of those deficiencies to workable levels. Your organic levels are at 1.1%...holy crap!

I did not readily see a number for arsenic. Do you know if that was checked? In looking at the numbers, it looked like that would be rather high too.




It was not checked, I just emailed the lab to see if they could perform additional tests on the samples I sent (they were quite large) but I'm not in a hurry so I can pull new samples at a later date.  Need to get the irrigation and drainage systems up and running again and I think many of these problems will start to be reduced.

One method of dealing with the alkali areas is to make them hay feeding areas and switch to spray irrigation rather than flood.  The added organic material and elimination of anaerobic conditions supposedly help to eliminate them.  Switching to spray will need to wait until I can put in water storage pnds which requires money and permits.
 
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Calcium Sulfate will be a good thing to add to those areas to bring the pH into the sweet spot (6.8 to 6.4) without doing that your microbiome will struggle.
Organic matter needs to be increased to 2.5% to 3.5% (minimum) if you could get it above 4.0 % some of your high numbers would drop and some of your low numbers would rise.
As was mentioned, a good granite rock dust would be really good, granite rock dust is slightly acidic too so it would also do some pH adjusting to the right end as well.

This is one of those cases where a good one time tilling can do a lot of help and speed up the soil organisms recovery (you will most likely need to add some organisms in the slick, it is most likely dirt)

First things to do are get organic materials in then rock dust then the calcium sulfate to fine adjust the pH. From there it will be mushroom slurries and good air rich compost to bring the microorganisms up to par.
grasses will then need to be planted so they can get some roots growing to help with the texture and tilth of the area. Might try some clovers and field peas, rape, just about anything will be of benefit.
Water will do some leaching and that will be good only when the soil can drain better from the organics addition.

Once you get it to this stage you can make the mineral adjustments with better success at keeping them where you want them.

Redhawk
 
Alex Arn
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Calcium Sulfate will be a good thing to add to those areas to bring the pH into the sweet spot (6.8 to 6.4) without doing that your microbiome will struggle.
Organic matter needs to be increased to 2.5% to 3.5% (minimum) if you could get it above 4.0 % some of your high numbers would drop and some of your low numbers would rise.
As was mentioned, a good granite rock dust would be really good, granite rock dust is slightly acidic too so it would also do some pH adjusting to the right end as well.

This is one of those cases where a good one time tilling can do a lot of help and speed up the soil organisms recovery (you will most likely need to add some organisms in the slick, it is most likely dirt)

First things to do are get organic materials in then rock dust then the calcium sulfate to fine adjust the pH. From there it will be mushroom slurries and good air rich compost to bring the microorganisms up to par.
grasses will then need to be planted so they can get some roots growing to help with the texture and tilth of the area. Might try some clovers and field peas, rape, just about anything will be of benefit.
Water will do some leaching and that will be good only when the soil can drain better from the organics addition.

Once you get it to this stage you can make the mineral adjustments with better success at keeping them where you want them.

Redhawk



Thanks, Dr. RedHawk.  

Are there any concerns using adding sulfates (calcium or copper) given the high levels of sulfur?

Deep plowing (10 inches) is already in the plan for sample area 2 60AB as there is a lot of black greasewood in that area and that appears to be the best control method without herbicides and I can till the slick areas once the drainage is sorted out.   I'll read up on the mushroom slurries threads as well.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I wouldn't go with a copper sulfate (Cu is not off much) and since that allows more sulfate to be released faster.
The nice thing about calcium sulfate is it takes a longer time for the sulfate to become free sulfur since the Ca has to be used by the bacteria in order for the sulfate to become free Sulphur.
Copper sulfate will ionize in both acid and basic conditions, which would throw off the pH of your soil in short order thus delaying the proliferation of the microorganisms needed for the area to become good soil.

If your soil had high levels of sulfur the pH would be far below 7.0 and your test shows the pH to be in the 8.0 range, we are shooting for a pH between 6.8 and 6.4 so acidity is what is needed, we just want to do it gradually so there isn't a shock effect to the microbiome organisms.
Your tests shows lime to be "very high", that means basic soil, just because you have two areas of high sulfur (AI and 60AB) doesn't really compute to me as accurate since the pH of those two areas (8.0 and 8.1) don't correlate to the sulfur numbers.
Zn is low across the board, but we should address the pH first because the Zn could move up once the soil becomes slightly acidic..
The salts levels above 0.7 are a little bit of concern but those will go down as your soil becomes more organic matter rich.
Nitrogen is ok, you can grow corn (very N hungry stuff) in areas with only 10ppm of N, you only have area 490AD that has a concerning low nitrogen level at this point, which is pretty easy to fix with a healthy microbiome.
Notice that the Fe is also low in 490AD, all those "shortages" need to be addressed but it is better to address the major items first, again because a healthy microbiome can change things other than what you were working to fix.

In arid areas, water can do a lot of adjusting, so we want to fix the major items then work towards the overall picture once we have organisms working on the minerals already there that are bound up and not just the water soluble compounds.

(read through my thread on soil testing)

Redhawk
 
Tj Jefferson
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Dr Redhawk's Soil Testing Thread

Dr Redhawk, I have used both zinc and copper sulfates in solution, and I have to have warm water to get much zinc to dissolve. They seem to work best in foliar feeding. Zinc alone has shown promise with the cedar apple rust, my copper levels are getting pretty good and I no longer apply it. I know copper will work.

Alex, I looked through the commercial rock dusts available on rockdustlocal, but you may be able to find a suitable basalt near you. I get my rock dust for free, I just ask for the settlement  pond fines, and I pay a friend to haul it for me. It is a waste product for the quarry. There may be somewhere similar you can get a bunch of minerals on the cheap.
 
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Dr Redhawk's Soil Testing Thread

Dr Redhawk, I have used both zinc and copper sulfates in solution, and I have to have warm water to get much zinc to dissolve. They seem to work best in foliar feeding. Zinc alone has shown promise with the cedar apple rust, my copper levels are getting pretty good and I no longer apply it. I know copper will work.

 Zinc dissolves better in water at around 150f. If you can find "mossy zinc" that might work better for the cedar apple rust issue.
 
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Common in alkali flats out west. I'm from there.



The lab had leftover samples so they are running selenium and magnesium numbers for me.
 
Alex Arn
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Dr Redhawk's Soil Testing Thread

Dr Redhawk, I have used both zinc and copper sulfates in solution, and I have to have warm water to get much zinc to dissolve. They seem to work best in foliar feeding. Zinc alone has shown promise with the cedar apple rust, my copper levels are getting pretty good and I no longer apply it. I know copper will work.

Alex, I looked through the commercial rock dusts available on rockdustlocal, but you may be able to find a suitable basalt near you. I get my rock dust for free, I just ask for the settlement pond fines, and I pay a friend to haul it for me. It is a waste product for the quarry. There may be somewhere similar you can get a bunch of minerals on the cheap.



Colorado looks like the closest on there but I'll ask around about local stone mines.  I know they mine bentonite and gypsum in the area but not sure about granite.
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I wouldn't go with a copper sulfate (Cu is not off much) and since that allows more sulfate to be released faster.

If your soil had high levels of sulfur the pH would be far below 7.0 and your test shows the pH to be in the 8.0 range, we are shooting for a pH between 6.8 and 6.4 so acidity is what is needed, we just want to do it gradually so there isn't a shock effect to the microbiome organisms.
Your tests shows lime to be "very high", that means basic soil, just because you have two areas of high sulfur (AI and 60AB) doesn't really compute to me as accurate since the pH of those two areas (8.0 and 8.1) don't correlate to the sulfur numbers.
Zn is low across the board, but we should address the pH first because the Zn could move up once the soil becomes slightly acidic..
The salts levels above 0.7 are a little bit of concern but those will go down as your soil becomes more organic matter rich.
Nitrogen is ok, you can grow corn (very N hungry stuff) in areas with only 10ppm of N, you only have area 490AD that has a concerning low nitrogen level at this point, which is pretty easy to fix with a healthy microbiome.
Notice that the Fe is also low in 490AD, all those "shortages" need to be addressed but it is better to address the major items first, again because a healthy microbiome can change things other than what you were working to fix.

In arid areas, water can do a lot of adjusting, so we want to fix the major items then work towards the overall picture once we have organisms working on the minerals already there that are bound up and not just the water soluble compounds.

(read through my thread on soil testing)

Redhawk



It sounds like I need to get the irrigation/drainage system back operational and some of these problems might start to stabilize.  I'll budget for an application of Calcium Sulfate and rock dust before I plow the greasewood but otherwise will hold off on additional amendments until I have a few years of cover crops.

Thank you.

Luckily I have a few years to get things into shape.
 
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Our local rock dust source is a workshop that cuts and polishes stone for kitchen work tops and the like. No igneous rocks within a few hundred miles of here.

You don’t necessarily need a quarry as a source.
 
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Michael Cox wrote:Our local rock dust source is a workshop that cuts and polishes stone for kitchen work tops and the like. No igneous rocks within a few hundred miles of here.

You don’t necessarily need a quarry as a source.



That's probably a good source for a garden, however, sample zone 2 60AB alone covers 50ish acres of land which (I think) would require 30-60 tons of granite dust to have a noticeable effect.  I'm hoping I can add 1 or 2 tons a year.
 
Alex Arn
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Calcium Sulfate will be a good thing to add to those areas to bring the pH into the sweet spot (6.8 to 6.4) without doing that your microbiome will struggle.

Redhawk



Sorry Dr. RedHawk, one more question.  In the soil testing thread, you mention that rapid shifts of Ph can shock the microbial community.  What application rate would you recommend for the calcium sulfate? As I mentioned, I have the luxury of time to get the soil into shape so I can do lighter applications over time.
 
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hau Alex, One of the nice things about using calcium sulfate is that you can use up to 10 kg per 100 m sq. with no worry about harm coming to the microbiome. I have not tested rates higher than that.
I do recommend that when it comes to making additions that you don't know well, going slow on the amount applied is a good idea.
That gives you time to observe, take readings, inspect under the microscope, etc. so you can make good decisions about increasing or decreasing the quantity applied in one pass.

On the rock dust use; I generally spread it in small amounts at a time, thicker applications on my land tend to blow away from where I want the product to be.
When I spread rock dust you can just about tell where I spread it but not without looking close. My spreading rate is 1-2 kg per 100 m sq., I'd rather make multiple applications than watch the amendment blow away, to help with that I generally spread things on damp ground after a rain if it is not thickly covered with plants.
The pastures had rock dusts added one time about two weeks after the grasses and other seeds had germinated, that was a one time application and for two acres I used about 200 lbs. (50 lb. bags).
That was three years ago and I haven't made any other additions to the pastures since that time, the rock dust was mixed with sea-90 which helped keep the dust where I wanted it and added many minerals missing from the rock dust.
If I was going to use a mineral dust today, I would first compare it to the minerals of sea-90 simply because I don't like spending money on something that isn't as good as the sea-90.

Redhawk
 
Alex Arn
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Alex, One of the nice things about using calcium sulfate is that you can use up to 10 kg per 100 m sq. with no worry about harm coming to the microbiome. I have not tested rates higher than that.
I do recommend that when it comes to making additions that you don't know well, going slow on the amount applied is a good idea.
That gives you time to observe, take readings, inspect under the microscope, etc. so you can make good decisions about increasing or decreasing the quantity applied in one pass.

On the rock dust use; I generally spread it in small amounts at a time, thicker applications on my land tend to blow away from where I want the product to be.
When I spread rock dust you can just about tell where I spread it but not without looking close. My spreading rate is 1-2 kg per 100 m sq., I'd rather make multiple applications than watch the amendment blow away, to help with that I generally spread things on damp ground after a rain if it is not thickly covered with plants.
The pastures had rock dusts added one time about two weeks after the grasses and other seeds had germinated, that was a one time application and for two acres I used about 200 lbs. (50 lb. bags).
That was three years ago and I haven't made any other additions to the pastures since that time, the rock dust was mixed with sea-90 which helped keep the dust where I wanted it and added many minerals missing from the rock dust.
If I was going to use a mineral dust today, I would first compare it to the minerals of sea-90 simply because I don't like spending money on something that isn't as good as the sea-90.

Redhawk



Thank you.
 
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Common in alkali flats out west. I'm from there.


Just got the selenium test results back.  

Sample 1-AI has 2.15 ppm
Sample 2 60AB has 2.00 ppm

Much higher than normal but not crazy high.
 
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