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Solomon The intelligent gardener questions  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I am just reading Solomon's book and have already question
Sorry for once again asking questions about that soil test. Steve Solomon uses Mehlich 3 test method, whatever this is, can I still use his methods if I would choose another test? If not is there an easy method to interpret the results and put it into fertilizer quantities?
The other question is I want to remineralize the soil but not to break the bank. Do I have to apply fertilizers once or a few times or all the time? Can I go the compost only method after a while?
 
gardener
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As long as the soil test you choose has CEC on it you ought to be good to go. Even if another soil test lists the elemental values in something other than ppm, it can be converted to ppm to use Solomons worksheets. Mehlich III is a pretty common extraction method, perhaps just ask the labs what method they use before choosing one.

The quantities involved in remineralizing your soil will of course vary, and adding everything at once is, generally speaking, not always a good idea. For instance, if the soil test indicates your pH is low and you need to add lime, and your phosphorous is low, don't add these at the same time as some of the Ca will bond with the P, instead of them individually bonding to cation exchange sites. In this case, maybe lime first, 3 months later add the phosphorous. Generally speaking, it will take multiple additions to raise the background levels of elements to the desired target levels, as some percentage of what's added will wash thru the soil with rain. Smaller additions spread out over 12 or 24 months will not only be easier on the wallet but more effective than applying everything all at once.

Adding minerals to compost is a really good technique and is certainly be a great way to maintain element levels with compost additions once the background soil levels are brought into desired ranges. It is of course recommended to keep doing ongoing soil tests annually so as to avoid accidentally having too much of any element bringing things out of balance.
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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making sense of soil tests  This PDF will explain the Mehlic 111 test so you can understand the method.

This is the make up of the extractant: Mehlich-3 Extractant (Mehlich, 1984) 0.2 N acetic acid; 0.25 N NH4NO3; 0.015 NH4F; 0.013 N HNO3; 0.001 M EDTA

The results of any  type of soil test can be compared as long as you don't try to make an apple out of an orange (look for the same things in each test). (most labs consider the M3 the best method as it has the least false positive results)

As James mentioned, CEC is a very desirable thing to know, it tells you how many and of which type of ions you have in your soil. Ionic exchanges are how the microorganisms talk to each other and process minerals for plants to take in.

The cheapest way to add minerals is to use a sea salt type product, it has a broad spectrum of minerals, once you have added a broad spectrum you then only need to boost those minerals that are below "normal".
Keep in mind that on planet earth there is no place above the sea floor that might contain all the minerals you might desire in your soil, so chances are you will need to make additions, these are not an all the time affair (unlike the sellers of said minerals want you to believe).
To keep things in balance (like nature wants all things to be) you have to make multiple applications (as James also mentioned).
I have found that a two year series of applications seems to work the best for any soil, it allows for equilibrium to be achieved between applications which helps the balance.

Redhawk
 
Angelika Maier
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Thanks! That means two years of applications and I'm done? It is sort of anti-permie to constantly apply something what I have to buy. I am still thinking of labs, one Australian: http://www.phosynanalytical.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Complete-Pricelist-2017-for-Website.pdf for P you can choose Olsen or Colwel whatever this is, the other would be Logan labs in the US which is cheaper and I could work along that book, I don't know if that would help me. Probably I would have to do various tests over several years.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I would do a beginning test and then a second after the first year of amendments so you can see if your on track to your goals for your soil.
It is also important that you make compost to raise the numbers of your soil biota as you are increasing the mineral concentration numbers, that way you will see maximum benefits of your efforts.

keep us posted, I'm sure James will be watching this thread as will I.

(need specific help? I am just a pm away)

Redhawk
 
James Freyr
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Yup, I'll be watching. Always happy to help if I can.
 
James Freyr
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Angelika Maier wrote:...the other would be Logan labs in the US which is cheaper and I could work along that book...



I've used Logan Labs. I like them, I think they're affordable, have pretty good turnaround, and their tests results sheet is easy to read. I also have Solomon's book and have read it, and it's one of my books I use to guide me in my remineralization efforts. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to understand Cation Exchange Capacity, how some mineral amendments can interact with each other, and how to improve & remineralize soil, just name a few topics. It explains a lot in an easy to understand way.
 
Angelika Maier
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Thanks! We have a compost with four departments and it is overflowing, but it's nothing near enough. We are (He is) making as well charcoal, and it is pretty good, but he has his own style of doing it... We did the first time the cowhorn thing but it didn't really help at least I can't see any difference, wereas I can see a difference when I mulch my tomatoes with comfrey or at least I think I see a difference. Yes I will work through this book. But I probably take Logan lab, I know I should buy Astralian but it is so unaffordable.
 
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