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SOIL MINERALIZATION HELP (SOIL TEST ATTACHED)

 
Jared Gulliford
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Location: Southwest, VA
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Hello there,

I was wondering if anyone had any advice. I recently became employed at a market garden and am trying to remineralize before the season. We have taken a soil test but we have been getting some contradicting advice. Some recommend trace minerals, others do not. I am a permaculture student and do not want to alter thing too much before observing the soil but also do not want to neglect glaring deficiencies. Attached is the test....Thanks for your help!

Here is some further info about the field......


Field #1

This is my general garden plot it is about 200' x 100'. I have used it the past 5 years to grow a variety of summer produce, and a little bit of spring crops. I have had peppers, eggplant, okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, cantaloupes, and green beans growing here. I have moved the crops by rows around this area and I would like to continue this for at least 2014, as I don't have more ground to move to. This past September I planted a tillage radish and oat cover crop.




Field #2

This field is 100' x 75' and has had only tomatoes in it for 3 years. I would like to take it out of production this year or summer. I would like to know what your recommendations are for cover cropping for this field. This past September after the tomatoes came out I planted tillage radish and oats, then I grazed it with goats before the frost killed it. I have had what I think is a virus or fungus for at least the last two years, probably three (I can't remember). I have attached a photo below. The tomato plants have been dying from the lower leaves up, and in time it takes over the whole plant. It seems to start more slowly in the early plantings, but spreads more aggressively in my later plantings. I am hoping that in this year off from growing I can start to balance the soil so this virus will not be a problem in the future.




FIeld #3

This field is 200' x 25'. Three years ago was it's first year in production and it had just tomatoes. Two years ago I grew squash/cucumbers/tomatoes/okra in the summer followed by fall vegetables greens/cole crops. Late spring of this past year I covered cropped with sorghum sudan grass. In the late summer we mowed and tilled the sorghum, and planted half of the area in fall crops- cole crops and greens. The other half is ready for spring plantings. One side of the long sides is lined with pine trees to the North.




Field #4

This is a 200' x 100'. Two years ago I grew melons and winter squash here and then cover cropped it with rye in the fall. Last year in the spring we rolled the rye down and then just mowed the field the rest of the year. I know this soil isn't great, but my plan is to grow the majority of my tomatoes here and some squash.



**************

Here is one recommendation:

20 lbs/acre of Manganese Sulfate




15 lbs/acre of Boron




10 lbs/ acre of copper sulfate




10 lbs/ acre of zinc sulfate




500 lbs/acre Gypsum (for low sulfur levels)--could also use elemental sulphur but at lower quantity




He also recommended two others although the they were not included in the test (many gardens are deficient):




4 lbs/acre of Cobalt sulfate




1 lb/ acre of sodium molybdate


**********





Filename: soil test.pdf
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File size: 155 Kbytes
[Download soil test.pdf] Download Attachment
 
John Elliott
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Is the advice you are getting really contradictory, or does it approach the problem in two different ways?

Given that the amount of minerals in the soil is low, there are two ways to attack the problem, the chemical way, which is to add chemical supplements like sodium borate, zinc sulfate, etc., then there is the biological way, which is to add lots of biomass, knowing that biomass contains these trace elements and will break down to provide the missing nutrients.

There's no reason you can't do both. The chemical way, while it solves each individual problem right away, does nothing for soil tilth and water retention in times of water stress. Also, the trace elements you are adding are not chelated, so you are counting on soil nitrogen to that for you as well. The biological method, while it will eventually correct the imbalances, may take several growing seasons. To get a nice crop this year, you really need to do a little of both: add lots of biomass, but also hit some of the chemical supplements, particularly the ones that are most deficient. Molybdenum, cobalt, and copper really don't show up as severely crop limiting nutrients, so those you can leave for the biomass to correct. However, crops are more sensitive to zinc, manganese, and boron deficiencies and those are ones that you may want to chemically supplement sooner rather than later.

There is an easy way to make your own zinc and manganese trace metal supplement, by composting alkaline batteries. When I make up this trace metal supplement to add to compost teas, I often add boric acid as well. One gram of boric acid in a 5 gallon bucket of compost tea is about the right concentration to be using in a foliar application.
 
Jared Gulliford
Posts: 29
Location: Southwest, VA
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Wow, thanks for the information!

I guess the advice is not contradictory just different. Some advise that I add trace minerals other do not. The garden is about 1.5 acres and we plan to cover crop at least a half of an acre.

Do you have any advice for compost teas? I had been making a tea out of worm castings and molasses but was think of buying the complete liquid feed from Nutrient Density supply (http://www.ndsupply.com/Nutrient_Density_Supply_Co./NDSC.html) and perhaps some efficient microorganisms. However, if I could make something as beneficial myself I would prefer that.


Recommendation #1:

Your soils have some issues, especially with trace mineral deficiencies (B, ZN, Cu, Mn). Sulfur is also less than ideal (50 #/acre) Organic matter levels should be over 5% to have little to no need of added nitrogen. Higher than ideal magnesium (>12%) can suppress calcium uptake, while raising pH to over 7, which inhibits trace mineral uptake. Hope this is of help.



**************************




RECOMMENDATION #2:



He remarked that your macronutrients looked sufficient. He did recommend the following for micronutrients/ trace minerals:




20 lbs/acre of Manganese Sulfate




15 lbs/acre of Boron




10 lbs/ acre of copper sulfate




10 lbs/ acre of zinc sulfate




500 lbs/acre Gypsum (for low sulfur levels)




He also recommended two others although the they were not included in the test (many gardens are deficient):




4 lbs/acre of Cobalt sulfate




1 lb/ acre of sodium molybdate




********************************







RECOMMENDATION #3



He recommended adding Phosphate to help with the potassium vs. phosphorus ratio as the potassium levels are quite high. The high amount of potassium could be causing weed pressure.


There is an abundance of magnesium in the soil to which he also recommended adding (elemental) sulphur. However, he thought Dan's Gypsum recommendation was far too high as adding large amounts of sulphur can hurt the microbial population (also adds calcium which the garden has plenty).


Instead, he suggested fixing the sulfates first and then deal with the sulphur.


he did not provide specifics as he was not familiar with the type of test I presented:


Boron

Zinc

Manganese

Iron

Copper

Phosphate

Mineral Salts (Redmond's)




**********************

RECOMMENDATION #4



He was most concerned with the high potassium levels, but he thought they could be watched over time. He thought the best way to deal with them would be to not add as much raw manure and instead use aged manure or compost.


He suggested Phosphorus application for #3 & # 4 in the fall. And some gypsum in the fall to #1 & #2, about 100lbs/acre.


He mostly said to apply Lancaster Ag's Seed Grow and Top Dress this spring as well as root dips for transplants and inoculates for seeds.


He didn't really suggest any individual mineral applications.


********


 
John Elliott
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I don't believe in buying compost tea. Make your own from whatever decomposing organic matter you have on hand. Even if it is just coffee grounds from the local Starbucks, you are turning trash into treasure. Get a 5 gallon bucket and a cheap aquarium air pump and set it up to run constantly. If you are going to be applying it regularly on your 1.5 acre, maybe you want to upgrade to a 55 gallon drum and a bigger air pump.

As far as adding gypsum, I don't believe in buying that either. Just go to a construction site and ask them if you can have their drywall scraps and leave them out in your garden. After a couple good rains, the paper peels right off, and in a couple more months, it can be easily crumbled and incorporated into the soil. Five hundred pounds of gypsum translates into about ten 4'x8' sheets of half-inch drywall.

 
Jared Gulliford
Posts: 29
Location: Southwest, VA
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Drywall for gypsum and Batteries for zinc and manganese.... That is true recycling.

I am working my way through your battery thread. I would like to try it but would have to let thing break down a while before trusting to put it on the garden since it is not my land.


Isn't there a risk for other chemical used in the process of batteries or drywall off gassing or contaminating the soil??

Also, I have never bought compost tea before as I use rabbit manure and worm casting but the complete liquid feed from ND Supply has more goodies than my simple mix. ie humates, trace minerals etc
 
John Elliott
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Jared Gulliford wrote:
Isn't there a risk for other chemical used in the process of batteries or drywall off gassing or contaminating the soil??



Alkaline batteries and drywall don't have "other chemicals" that are problematic. Even that Chinese drywall that off-gasses H2S because there are significant amounts of sulfides in with the sulfates. While the H2S is problematic when it off-gasses inside a house, if it is applied to soils, there are soil critters that will eat it up.

I wish this were the case with more industrial products, that they were easy to recycle. People here have their own level of comfort when it comes to fungi degrading things like herbicides in hay, pesticides in lawn clippings (from "well-manicured" lawns), creosote on railroad ties, etc. The thing to do, if you have a windfall of some industrial waste available to you, is to study up on how it degrades in the environment. Bring your questions here and we can dissect the material and figure out a way to de-toxify it and get it back into the cycle of life.
 
David Rogers
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Take care of P, Ca, Mg, and K first.
visit www.soilminerals.com if you like it, buy The Ideal Soil by Michael Astera-

-http://www.amazon.com/Ideal-Soil-Handbook-New-Agriculture/dp/0984487603/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395831125&sr=1-1&keywords=the+ideal+soil

then figure it out.

join the discussion on the Yahoo groups High Brix Project or the soil and health group

Dave Rogers
 
Jeb Thurow
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I agree with David, The Ideal soil handbook not only tells you what you need but why it is important. You have much bigger problems than micro nutrients that need to be addressed first.. Soilminerals.com can explain much better then this short reply....Jeb Thurow Wa.
 
Marc Troyka
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Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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Eh, after doing some research I no longer agree with the levels suggested by soilminerals.com. Those numbers are pretty arbitrary and don't represent what plants actually take up on average. More realistic numbers would be 50% Ca, 30% Mg and 10% K. They also try to tie anion levels to cation levels with some nonexistent relationship between the two, and fail to account for effects like competition between sulfur and phosphorus for plant uptake.

That said, you have some fairly unusual soil. All your micro levels are indeed blatantly low, as well as sulfur on all fields. Fields 3 and 4 are additionally low in potassium. Other nutrients are fine, although your CEC is unusually low which coincides with low organic matter levels.

For potassium, you would need about 2500lbs per acre of kelp meal in order to supply enough for fields 3 and 4 (50lbs/0.02 since kelp meal is 2% K). Otherwise you would need only 125lbs per acre of potassium nitrate. Unfortunately there is no such thing as "rock potassium", all potassium is either low concentration organic form or else high solubility salt form, so those are your basic choices.

I refuse to give you direct numbers regarding micronutrients, except to confirm that they're low. What I will tell you is that copper and zinc should be at 20ppm, manganese at ~50ppm and iron at ~200ppm. The problem is that all of these MUST be added slowly over 5 years or else you WILL kill every living thing in your soil and possibly most of the things that live in the watershed you contribute to as well. Talk to your local extension and make sure you know what you're doing before you mess with these, because they are VERY toxic when concentrated. Your test doesn't show cobalt, and you should never add concentrated micros unless you've done a test for them beforehand and know how much you need and over what schedule to apply it.

Boron is not quite so problematic. 15lbs per acre of boric acid for every field is a must, although getting it spread out evenly may be a challenge.
 
David Rogers
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Mark,

Where are you getting this information? on 50% Calcium; 30% Magnesium and 10% Potassium?

I think that would give you a sticky soil.

Before doing either see what your local land grant agricultural university suggests.

Dr. Carey Reams and Dr. William Albrecht were both striving for nutrient dense food as is Dan Kittridge and David Yarrow. David Yarrow's website is TERRA--

http://www.dyarrow.org/gateway.htm he has some great power point presentations a real good education, I think.

Dave Rogers
 
Marc Troyka
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Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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David Rogers wrote:Mark,

Where are you getting this information? on 50% Calcium; 30% Magnesium and 10% Potassium?


I derived these numbers from experimental data. In this paper they describe an experiment where they planted several crop varieties in soils with a Ca:Mg ratio ranging from 1:1 to 7:1. The whole plants were then harvested and the Ca and Mg concentrations in the plant tissues were measured. What they found was that regardless of the soil concentrations, plants maintained an internal Ca:Mg ratio between 1.5:1 and 3:1, with an average of 2:1 ( and more toward the magnesium-rich side), and that the ratio depends primarily on the species of plant. The numbers I chose, 50% and 30%, are a magnesium rich approximation of that 2:1 average ratio which adds up to 80% in order to leave sufficient room for other necessary nutrients. Note that this ratio is significantly more magnesium rich than what Mike Astera and other similar authors suggest.

I further derived the optimum potassium level based on experimental information found here. Based on their numbers, plant tissue has an average Ca:K ratio of 5:1, so in other words if calcium is 50% then potassium should be 10%. Note that this is also a higher potassium level than Mike Astera and other albrecht-methodists suggest. Mind you in either case I look only at the data and mostly ignore the recommendations given by the U of WI extension, and I only use William Albrecht's numbers as a rough starting point to make balancing the numbers easier.

It isn't particularly that my numbers contradict Albrecht's original work per se, but rather that I'm using more modern, more accurate and more precise numbers to determine optimal levels whereas everyone else is using archaic and imprecise data. The reason why Albrecht's data was inaccurate is because his experiments involved observing plant growth response to varying mineral levels (which was more subjective than not) whereas the modern experiments that my numbers are based on use actual measurements of nutrient concentrations in plant tissues, which show much less variation. It only makes sense that soil nutrient ratios should be close to the ratios that plants maintain internally, so that nutrients will deplete evenly and so that plants have to do less work to maintain homeostasis.

David Rogers wrote:Before doing either see what your local land grant agricultural university suggests.

I only suggest looking to an extension for micronutrients, and only because they probably know how to spread them out properly to avoid creating dead spots or sterilizing your land accidentally. Every extension seems to have their own contradictory and generally arbitrary idea of what good soil levels for various nutrients are, and most of them don't even justify their suggestions with any research to back it up (which is why I like the U of WI's data). Plants in GA are not going to behave significantly differently than plants in WI, so I see no reason why I should rely on UGA's nonsensical numbers instead. Notice that the recommendations given by the U of WI actually contradict (or at least ignore) the data from the experiments they did, which is why I ignore them and use my own numbers instead.

David Rogers wrote:I think that would give you a sticky soil.

I've never seen any good evidence that Ca or Mg have any such effect on soil texture. My experience and observations from mainstream agriculture suggest that if you add either too much Ca or Mg then the soil may harden into a crust when it dries out, but that's about it. Soil compaction and texture depends much more on organic matter content and more importantly on soil life such as worm activity than it does on nutrient composition. I think "sticky" soil is mostly produced when organic matter breaks down under waterlogged conditions, e.g. muck soils. I think if you remove the muck from the waterlogged environment it will eventually soften as it breaks down more normally. That actually happened with some soggy muck I dumped on my garden last year.

I actually wrote an article about all of this, but I really need to rewrite it since I learned a lot more about nutrient interactions and things since then.
 
David Rogers
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Well written, Marc,

Jared can look to his own state Md for their excellent SLAN approach http://mda.maryland.gov/resource_conservation/Documents/nm_manual/I-B2%20p1-11%20s6.pdf

especially if he has loamy sand but that is mostly about NPK.

My land has an excess of Calcium, and a lack of Mg and K (which I am trying to solve) but I am not troubled much with insects or
disease. we grow 1/2 A of open pollinated corn and 1/2 A in gardens, The produce tends to have high Brix, dehydrates and doesn't rot.

We don't have irrigation and this is the driest part of NY and my land is sand and loamy sand.

I think the micronutrients are very important and The Ideal Soil ratios are working out very well for me.

We use Logan Labs and I did a Paste test on the worst garden B, Cu and Zn were not measureable. K and Mg were 1/3 of what they should be.
Ca, P, Mn, Na were on the low end. S and Fe were sufficient

Dave Rogers
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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