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Soil Connectivity – Why, How and using the results  RSS feed

 
Posts: 21
Location: Noosa Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Hi All,

I need more info on the hows and whys of soil connectivity tests.

My understanding, that by taking a reading using an EC meter and recording the reading.
One can determine the minerals available in the soil and monitor the nutrient availability throughout the growing season.

I have not determined what the ideal reading should be, but have read that at planting - 200 millisiemens and 600 to 800 millisiemens when the plant is in a growing phase.

The process is to have a reading before planting (Is it worth planting the crop at all?) and then monitoring throughout the growing phase.

By taking regular readings one can see if there are any nutrient deficiencies that need to be addressed as this does not show up in the leaves till it may be too late.

I know that if you feed your crop regular, this should not happen but for a little effort and hardly any cost it may be well worth it.

All input on this subject will be helpful.

Thanks in advance
Anthony
 
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Posts: 4891
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Lets look at what you are asking here. EC = Electrical Conductivity  Not minerals but salts create soil EC readings.
High EC meter readings tell you that this soil has a lot of salts in it, and that adjustment might be needed.
It does not tell you which mineral salts are present, just that salt levels are either high or low or pretty good.

The use of an EC meter should be accompanied by other tests, and by the way a good EC meter is going to set you back 200+ dollars for the apparatus then you need calibration solutions to set it up each time you are going to use it.

Taking regular readings will give you a salinity profile curve, what this tells you is increases and decreases in salinity of that soil.
What an EC meter can suggest is the level of anion/ cation exchange in the soil being tested. This tells you a little about the plant growth ability the soil supports.

Unless you are prepared to invest in either lots of tests run by labs or building and learning how to use your own laboratory, I wouldn't waste the money on a meter.
I would invest that money in full soil tests run by a certified lab instead. Those results will give you a mountain of data and information to use, instead of a single parameter.

Redhawk
 
Anthony Saber
Posts: 21
Location: Noosa Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Hi Redhawk,
Thanks for the answer.
Can you please tell me what the readings constitute such as
Low/Bad – Med/Average – High/Good
I would like to better understand EC meter readings.
Cheers
Anthony
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Anthony,  Sadly, there is not really an easy answer to what readings are good vrs. bad.
That is because each type of soil function has a different EC level for best operation of the function.

Tomatoes grow best at an EC of 1.8 but beans grow best at a 2.2 reading (both calculated), however, this is just one aspect of soil function.
Soil does so many things, that growing plants is not the most important role soil occupies in our world.

The link below is to the NRCS EC pages for educators, it will give you lots to think about and it is great knowledge to have in your tool kit.
NCRS soil EC

Redhawk
 
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