Hi all, interested in your opinions on how to remedy compacted soil. Mason jar soil test shows sandy loam. PH is 5.5. It is a very gravelly area. I was going to dust with dolomite, use lots of compost/manure. Then seed a cover crop over it. Also thinking of some deep rooted plants? Any other ideas? Thanks
I am not sure I have enough information to make a suggestion. What exactly do you plan to do with it? Pasture? garden, even lawn have different requirements.
You could grow poatoes quite well on that soil by the sounds, but anything else, even grass is going to require quite a bit of lime to get your PH up. If that is not right, your plants, no matter what you are trying to grow, will not uptake their nutrients.
You did not say what your other major and minor elements were, but I would imagine your magnesium levels are elevated.
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I think your approach with the compost & manure and cover crops is great, and I want to mention that dolomite is very unlikely to help your soil situation and here's why. Dolomite has magnesium in it, and magnesium makes soil particles, the colloids, stick together. Regular lime, or even calcitic lime, will yield much better results helping loosen up the soil. It's the calcium in lime that loosens soil colloids and keeps them from sticking together. Gypsum is another great resource to use to get calcium into a soil, and it will not have a pH adjusting affect like lime will. With your soil's pH at 5.5, it's perfect for plants that need acidic conditions, like blueberries. It's not ideal for other plants, such as most garden veggies like beans, tomatoes, melons, etc., that grow better in and prefer a less acidic soil with a pH of somewhere like 6.5. Hope this helps!
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If key line plowing on contour is an option, that may help water retention and absorption. But for deep rooted annual cover crops, which is what I would recomend for you, it depends on your location, and if you have the precipitation or moisture to grow certian annual varieties. Your close enough to the warm season, you'll want to plant a warm season crop of mixed annuals. The more diverse the mix the better, but the culmination of your conditions may restrict your initial selection. If you get warm enough in summer, you could probably do Sun Hemp, and Sudangrass-Sorghum hybrid as just a guess to start; however, climate and available moisture/precipitation definitely matter in the best selection of a mixed annual cover crop, to select a mix that will do best in your spacific sesonal conditions.
You can plant cool weather mixed annual cover crops too, and with the combined warm and cool seasons, grow over 15 tons of organic matter per acer.
Hope that helps
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