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Soil Management in Greenhouses

Whitmar McConnell


Whitmar McConnell

Owns and operates Golden Moment Farm in Means, KY



  • January 17, 2019
    4:00 PM


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How many here have green houses or high tunnels or who passes or the Quite a few of you I'm going to assume here you're growing in dirt because if you're not growing and or this class is not going to use that derogatory word in soil. Then this class is not going to help you if you if you're growing hydroponic or some are using it as Type A method so the other thing that I'm going to assume here is that we're talking about managing selling green greenhouses or modify climate environments and so we're going to talk about the the issues you have to look address. When you when you move into growing in those environments so I'm going to assume that if you're growing outside you're already addressing So fertility if you're not addressing So fertility then with that we'd have to We'd have to have a discussion about that as well so what I'm going to talk about is the issues you're going to deal with in the end and I modify climate growing environment. Because it's because you're growing in that environment rather than just outdoors and so well let me just share this back in back in 2003 I currently have about 23000 square feet of greenhouse and high tunnel and I've been growing at that scale now for about 18 years. Back in 2003 I went to a greenhouse supply places primarily for hydroponic supplies but they sold a lot of other supplies that I needed to use irrigation supplies and things like that and I was talking to the owner of the business there and. I told him I'd be grown in the soil because he was want to know if I need to hydroponic supplies I said on the grow in the soil and he just laughed and he said Oh you'll come up out of that soil and in a couple of years. Why did he say that well what typically happens. To growers in greenhouses in soil is their salt levels climbing and climbing climb and why do you suppose that happens. Well it could be irrigation that we had that issue and our place in Colorado we had water and we're going to talk about that in just a minute. A lot of times it's because they're not managing they're not managing their so properly they don't know their soil they're just putting soluble fertiliser on their growing like they're like they're growing hydroponically Perceptor growing in the soil and they're over applying salt fertilizers it's not all being utilized and so typically that's what happens to people as they wind up having to come up out of the soil because the salinity levels climb too high in there and it just causes problems for growth so let's just look at what what what would be different about managing the soil and a high tunnel or a greenhouse Well you're that you're modifying the climate so as a result you're going to have a longer season right that's your goal is that to extend your season or possibly to to. You know improve the environmental conditions the temperatures or are some of those things people typically So if you're growing for a longer season do you think you're going to use more fertility growing for a longer season you might be growing outside. Another thing that you typically do in a. Situation like that is you you tend to plant more in there it tends to be a higher density of planting that you're putting in there so you're putting a heavier load on your soil than that you would typically outdoors another big thing and this is from experience another big thing is you're now controlling the water and put it. And you would think that would be a big deal you see why you see why it is I see this all the time so you know controlling the water and put it into that into that space is no rainfall falling on it and depending on where some you folks are you might live in a dry climate you always have to irrigate anyway and another one is whatever you move into a high tunnel or modified in environment you're doing it because it gives you some kind of advantages over the environment so you're getting warmer temperatures earlier if you're protecting it from from winter or cold cold winds you in my case in Colorado when I was growing in Colorado we now we actually needed to reduce the solar level the solar intensity in the summertime we were at 7000 square feet and that's got 7000 feet elevation and we would get in a summertime about 10000 foot candles of light a day plants only need about 3 to 4000 and so by going into the into the greenhouse we were helping the plants grow better because we could see the difference between what we grew outside what we grew inside the stuff outside was a lot shorter a lot more compact because of the solar intensity a lot more energy went to trying to keep the plant cool and and deal with that you know excessive solar intensity so you're going into it you're going into a modified climate environment to try to modify some of those those impacts and at certain times of the year that's beneficial but what happens in other parts of the year so you in the early part of the year you want warmer temperatures The bit more protected crop protection of the crop what happens in the middle of summer time you now have you know have elevated environmental stresses you have the opposite you had advantages before and now you have other issues and this comes into play particular when you have a say a high or low tech type of high tunnel or somewhere where you don't have fans that are going to come on and exhaust the air and replace it and so. You can't separate the soil and see where you say well this is this is environmental influences weather but you can't separate that from the soil the 2 parts of a growing system and they impact each other and so you're going to wind up having impacts on the Soul as a result of that so you're going to pull typically you're going to pull harder on your soil in a high tunnel or in a club where you can extend the season so you're going to have to there's a few things you need to know one you need to know you need to know what the capacity or so is 0 one other thing I did not is a lot of times across we grow in high tunnels are a lot higher demanding crops or because you're succeeding crops it's high demand like for example let's say you just grew salad mix in there but you turned it every month you would actually pull more but just pick potassium you'd actually pull more potassium than you would at a tomato crop in that same timeframe and tomatoes pull a lot of potassium but it's because you're succeeding crops and you put in so many what so many in back to back the you're you're actually pulling a pretty heavy load of nutrients out of that soil and so you need to know what you need to know your soil you need to know what the the fertility holding capacity that soil is and if you don't know that you need to find out what you need to find out what it is. Because souls how different fertility holding of capacities they call exchange capacity and you could have and I try to illustrate it with buckets. Your soil might have a 5 gallon bucket of capacity and might have a one gallon bucket of capacity and if you really need to know what that is because if you have a one gallon bucket of capacity and you're going to try to grow it to made a crop for 4 months or even 5 months in that that high tunnel. You may have to fill that one gallon that one gallon bucket 5 times. To be able to supply all the fertility that that cross going to need to stay healthy and productive Now if you have the 5 gallon bucket you might not have if you've filled it up you might not have to add anything else to keep that going and productive so you've got to know what the capacity your soul is especially in a extended season environment where you're you're in a high tunnel or greenhouse and also because you're planning higher density at least I do it you know maybe not everybody does that but when I when I plant Everything's up so we're growing cucumbers up we're going to Maida's up we're going peppers up we're going eggplant up everything goes up we grow pole beans up so it's 9 feet 910 feet of crop up in the air so then we so you need to know what the capacity is and what else you think you would need to know besides the capacity of your soil the whole fertility you're going to need to know what the requirements of the crop are how long you plan on growing this crop how much fertility is going to require to grow that crop that we just used tomatoes as an illustration a lot of people don't really think about what kind of production yield they're actually producing. Just on the low end typically in a high total environment you're producing about. 60 tons of tomatoes on a per acre basis now at 60 times your poll and $250.00 to $300.00 pounds and nitrogen about $45500.00 pounds of potassium and we could go down the list of all of those so you need to know I've grown and produced tomato crops where we pulled $100.00 tonnes $120.00 tons of tomatoes on a per acre basis and so you need to know what the requirements of the crop is you need to have some idea of OK what you know how long we're going to grow this crop. And you know what are we expecting yield wise. And so then you have to look at these picture OK what can my soul hold what's this going to require And then how are we going to make up the difference in order to keep things healthy to grow grow for that length of time. The same thing with a succession of crop that may not pull as much like I said if you're if you're putting a short term crop in there that might be only in the ground 30 days but you're putting it 5678 times in that season then you're going to put you have again you have to know what am I taking out with it. So that you can actually make sure that you're you're supplying that crop I've seen over and over where stuff starts falling apart halfway through the season because the crop is running out of nutrition has anybody grown tomatoes in a high tunnel they had problems with early blight in the high tunnel. This is just I just want to use one illustration there is it we can look at a whole bunch of different things but typically what happens in an early blight outbreak is your crop is moving has moved into a transition from of what's called the framing stage of the vegetative state where it's building the plant into the reproductive stage and the mandate is to be fruitful and multiply so these plants are going to do everything that they can to bear fruit if that means pulling nutrients from the plant itself that's what they're going to do if they cannot get enough nutrition from the from the ground and the soil they're going to pull it from the plant itself in order to try to complete that that reproductive process now. Typically what happens is when that transition takes place there's too much load on the plant there's not enough potassium to maintain the plant and to produce the fruit. And so the plant begins pulling that the tomato plant begin pulling the potassium Adelies it also cuts off exuding photosynthesis out onto the leaves which actually feed the organism that causes the causal organism for early blight which is Alton area. Where the rest of the name is a leaf dwelling fungal organise it the plant up to that point is actually feeding that organism and that organism is actually beneficial to the plant but is that as that deterioration takes place the plan is now to stop feeding it and it's now sending signals of senescence or that the plant is actually dying and so that's when you that's when they the Alton area begins attacking the plant it's assumption is this is dying and has to be recycled and so that's a that may be a little bit different take than what you're used to people telling you about disease problem like that but it comes down to death seem deficiency largely is that where the lead to that happening. So you need to know those 2 things you need to know what you have available in your soil and what's going to be required for the crops that you're going to be growing in there you also need to know. What what the condition your water is I didn't think this was that big of a deal until we bought the place we did near Colorado Springs in Colorado. You need to know what's coming with your water and a lot of people don't think about it if they're growing outside or just growing rainfall. And then you switch over because you can irrigate inside and you go to a well or something like that the irrigate it and it could have you guys know you know well what happens. That the silence they have a lot of bicarbonate in their water and it's just locked up their calcium and locked up iron and cause all kinds of trouble. So you need to know what's in your water because contaminated water or water bringing things in with it that you don't want can wreak havoc on what you're trying to do with fertility and growing that crop and so I always encourage people to have to have a water test done if you're going to be controlling that water even if it's a surface source you'd be surprised what can come with rainwater. And depending on if it's runoff what came you know where where that water ran off from what it brought with it from the the area around off from so I always encourage people. Course to do so well tested No I actually the crops that we produce and the greenhouses in high tunnels are high enough value that we actually test are still sick every 6 months because we want to know because it makes such a huge difference if we can if we can make sure that we have everything there that's needed to optimize that crop we get paid back tenfold what it cost us to do that testing I also encourage people to have their water tested the better the more good information you have the better the decisions you can make about what you're doing and your objective is to generate a crop and probably some of you maybe some of you just for your for your own benefit some of you it's to sell you want to you want to make a profit on it so you want to make sure the the resources you invest into it are going to give you a return and not a loss. It's called an irrigation water test and what they'll do is they'll test it to see what minerals or near water they'll test for the electrical conductivity of the water which is how much salt level in it they'll test for by carbon it's in carbon it's They'll test what they'll do what it is called a SAR which is a sodium absorption ratio. And it basically tells you how how you know good this water's going to be or how many problems you're going to wind up having and what you need to address relation to that to make sure that you don't have those problems and I was surprised when we moved back in back east when you're out west a lot of the ground water is heavy and minerals and all and a lot of contaminants back east I wouldn't thought that that would be the case but actually in Kentucky I have a lot of growers in Kentucky that have very high bicarbonate in their water course we have these massive case systems in there in Kentucky and you know it's partly because of the carbonic acid in the bicarbonate is generated as a result of rainwater leeching down through that lives down and and so a lot of the groundwater there is really high in bicarbonate and bicarbonate by large what it does is it it reacts with calcium and it turns it back into limestone and. It also can react with iron and tie it up but a bigger problem is it actually reacts with the city and neutralize your city now plant roots put out a city they give it they give off hydrogen in exchange for neutrino limits like calcium magnesium potassium and so they want to exchange it the microbes in the soil do the same thing and when that bicarbonate is there in a high level it keeps neutralizing that acidity and so the plants in the microbes just keep getting shortchanged on the deal and they can't get the nutrients that they need so this is just one issue with water you can have high mineral levels and you're already high in those those minerals in your soil and so you need to be mindful of that and how you me how you may dress that the other thing about water is that I find that people don't put enough water on in the in the green at their greenhouse or high total environment and so you what I see happen and so the test as I get them from year to year is that you know you'll see it to cause an accumulation of sulphur you'll see an accumulation of some other minerals in the soil because it's it's not being there either not being it's not being applied in the right amounts or it's and it's accumulating a lot of times you have to apply like say for sulfur For example if you have excessive Catalans like calcium magnesium potassium or sodium you need to put sulphur on in higher amounts than you actually need to try to leach out that excess that's causing imbalances in your soil but if you don't move enough water through the soil it's not going anywhere and the goal is to leach it out and so out and you know it's common that I see. An accumulation there is there's no movement there that excess is not going anywhere because there's not enough water being applied Well the way that I the way that I water is to drip irrigation. We have 3 emitter tubes on 4 foot wide beds and we get good distribution of the water throughout the. Profile Yeah we have it it's all filtered in it's on a on a timer and we run you know a certain amount of water 3 times a week on it you know the more frequently you can do something in smaller quantities generally the better so applying for a tale of if you could put up life fertility weekly rather than Once the season or a couple times a season it always works out better to be able to do it that way but the logistics of doing that a lot of times is not you know people just don't have the time to. Make that kind of investment you know let me just repeat the question he was at the question that I just answered was how it how do you irrigate in the in a high tone or greenhouse now I have a secondary system of sprinklers. That I can flush you know I can drenched that whole area if need be to flush stuff down out of there if something starts accumulating I'm very precise on what I put on and so you know and this is why people wind up getting salt issues because they're they put way more on and it's really needed because they really don't know what their capacity is so capacity isn't everything so very precise about it but there are there are times when I need to flush it a little bit and so I have these overhead sprinklers that will cover the entire area and I could put a lot more water on in a short period of time than in the drip irrigation could so I could you ask the question again the question is if you put more water on would that cause a leaching effect that's the objective if you're trying to move excessive material out of nutrients out of your growing area soil area the root zone you want that to go down you want enough water put on to take it out now some people might ask the question well isn't that going to leach out stuff I don't want leach out if you're actually applying nutrients based on the capacity that soil you will not lose very much if any of the nutrients you don't want to get rid of so it's you know you will lose stuff if you put more on and then that is needed there and it's it's in excess and it'll go up but that's the goal and. This is a little easier to do the further east you go where you've got. More water to work with out west where you may not have as much water and you have lower humidity to deal with it's lot more of a challenge to move water down. That the net movement tends to be up in evaporation and so you have to take some more steps. To make sure you get it to go down there and I can tell you if it keeps coming up what he thinks going to happen Where's the water go when it evaporates goes into the air right. It's evaporating goes into the air what you think is left behind whatever minerals were dissolved in that water stayed behind and what happens this is another reason that this man told me I would salinity would build up and and I'd have to come out of the soil is because you know gradually you start accumulating salts up in the top few inches of the soil and I He was almost right with me he almost had me because I I didn't realize that we had the issues with our water this is where I learned that water quality was a big deal I started seeing these white crystals on the surface of the soil and. It was from the bicarbonate it was actually calcium it was precipitating precipitating out there but it was also because I was getting in that evaporative. Effect I wasn't getting enough water on to to keep moving that material down and out it takes a lot more water in the dry environment in the high solar intensity environment like that to move it down so you have to know you have to have something about the environmental conditions you're working with too to know you know how to manage your water it's not a matter of just putting enough water on for the crop to grow and one of the things that happens when you get salt levels higher or the E.C. they call electrical conductivity higher up in that root zone it's harder and harder and harder to for the plant roots to take the water to pull it against all that salt it's just a really hard for the point was to pull it OK The question is how much how do you gauge how much water is enough we typically this is going to vary depending on you know the climate you're working with AM A solar intensity you have there's several different factors you have to take into consideration but we typically in the summertime in Kentucky we're typically up to 2 inches of water a week. Now we don't have a net evaporative effect there. Out West where you have a higher evaporation rate you may have to maybe even double that to make sure that water is moving now another thing that people do sometimes too is rather than water. Lighter watering 3 times a week they'll do a couple of the what the the crop needs and then they'll do a 3rd one where they put a heavy flush on where they put several inches of water in to put push stuff down so typically you know it's ensure water until if you're if you're growing like say you're growing determinant to mate as we grow indeterminate tomatoes and give me an every any given season we produce about $20.00 to $25.00 foot a vine before that before the plants are done so. We've got a big plant you know it's typically it went once they get up to the wire they're 9 feet tall and you know they're they're covered with leaves and fruit and we're printing up from the bottom as we harvest in so that any given time 2 thirds of that 2 thirds of that 9 feet or 6 feet is covered with plants that's a lot of transpiration going on and so you know we use every bit of 2 inches of water even in even in that environment the other thing is in a you know when you're out west of humidity is a lot lower and so it takes a lot more water for the plant to keep itself cool. Too and hydrated so that that that's the big thing you don't want you don't want water you want to be sure that you're putting out a cool water on and you have to be sure you know what's coming with that water because like we experiencing in Colorado we were accumulating sodium and. Let me just. Touch on what happens with the different these different Catalans because the 4 major Catalans excess affect the structure your soil they determine the structure so I know I shared this in my earlier class but a lot of people think that organic matter plays a significant role in structuring your soil helping a better structure and it does it does play a role in helping your soul to be better structured but by far chemistry in the soil affects the structure that so way more than organic matter does for humans and it's these 4 major Catalans calcium magnesium potassium and sodium that affect that structure calcium and magnesium flocculation surly do it in different ways of flocculation what I mean is they say clumping together into aggregates and calcium does it and that the clay plates that they're the closest place that their attack attaching together like place their flat and calcium attaches they have to charge is that the clay plates are have a negative charge and the calcium has a 2 plus charge is magnesium as 2 plus charges and potassium one and sodium one and when Cal is the because of the the dynamics of the atom and how much water jacket is is attracted to it calcium is bigger atoms so it has a smaller water jacket in magnesium. So it attaches these plates like this face to edge or edge to edge like this magnesium attaches them right on top of each other like this so could you see that there would be more porosity if you were attaching this way that attaching this way. So those are the 2 key elements that actually structure your soil and it's the amount of those 2 that determine how well you're still the structure now potassium and sodium actually play a role in that too both of them are by and large in a negative way potassium can actually seal off the edges of those plates and lock them down and. And make your soil even tighter and sodium actually because of its atomic dynamics actually disperses it all falls apart and if anybody's ever worked with soil that's high in sodium you see when it gets wet it gets kind of soupy looking and sticky and everything just runs together and the pores base is all just totally filled up so at our case there in Colorado we had the sodium bicarbonate coming in bicarbonate was. Taking the calcium sodium was taking its place collapsing our soil structure and and you know it was turning our sold Iraq I mean it was this it was just turning it hard as a result of that so that's why it's important you know what's coming and what's in your water because it's actually affecting primarily it's going to affect the structure your soil but it's also going to affect nutrient availability The question is specifically in my case what I do when I saw that happen while this was totally new to me now I've been doing I've been growing for quite a few years and I've been working with good you know good soil models for that time frame but I've never dealt with water quality issues before so it 1st I didn't know what was going on I just wasn't sure what was going on and so I had to. We would do our SO fertility and the next time we would do a so a test it wasn't any better in fact a lot of cases it was worse or calcium levels were going down and so sodium was going up. I finally had it I knew it wasn't a fertility I knew something else was going on The only other thing going into the system was the water so I called the university and asked them about you know the people there about you know they knew anything about the water in this area and they said oh yeah you're in a SADIC. Groundwater area it's just loaded with sodium bicarbonate and so that's OK well what do I do that's when I learn what happens when with that type of water well you have to you have to eliminate It's not the sodium you have to eliminate the bicarbonate So you have to in our case we were actually able to apply enough sulfur elemental sulfur to this oil that we were able to neutralize the bicarbonate after it came out once it's neutralized you don't get that substitution of sodium to go with calcium and as long as you keep the saw with the sulfur there it's neutralizing the bicarbonate but it's also making it so that that sodium can just leech through and not stick around and so that's what we had to do to correct it and there are some people like the silence for example they're having to use a sulfur burner to produce so furious acid injected into the water and then that neutralize the bicarbonate in the water near still in the process of tweaking that and getting it all getting it all worked out this is another reason why you need another capacity yourselves in this particular case the capacitor so it's pretty low and when you have a low capacity so ill it can get messed up in a hurry because you just don't have a lot of wiggle room on it and so knowing the capacity yourself is really important because you can get out of whack in a in a hurry. OK The common question was he had trench to soil and put some golden door in the bottom and table scraps in it in there and you said everything grew really well but then he was told that because he did that he would have to. Regenerate a soil because it did did what to it so the the reason was is because you've depleted some of the nutrients in the soil and are going to have to put them back in the reality here is and I'm not sure where the person was coming from on all of that I'll just give you a couple of perspectives the reality is if you're growing the food and taking it out of the garden or the high tunnel What do you take in with it nutrients you know there has to be a give back the can't just be a continual taking So that's the reality and particularly if you're a market grower and it's all even the farm it's another thing if you're consuming that food as a family and then at least putting back the scraps in and all of that back into the system but the reality is is that fertility is leaving and so you have to you have to be able to replenish that as far as the organic matter part of it. The number one thing I see with people who use who are Ghana growers and I have a lot of organic growers I work with is the overuse of organic matter now why do things grow so well when you do that because most of the nutrients that are in that organic matter are in an organic form already and that's the it saves the plants an energy to be able to get those nutrients in a form the dilemma the you wind up with and what I see happen you know probably 7580 percent of the time is some nutrients that are in those are those organic materials are not used to the same level as other nutrients are used and in particular I'm talking about phosphorus here. And so you want accumulating in accumulating and eventually you have excessive amounts of it so I'm just sharing that with you to say that people say you can't go wrong with compost you know just keep piling on but. I'm saying that you can cause yourself problems eventually doing that yeah you see because phosphate has a triple negative charge when it hit somewhere it's not going anywhere unless it washes away with the solar blows away with the soil until you get so extremely excessive it'll actually eventually start leeching out but you're already in an extremely excessive situation. Potassium which can be high and organic materials can leach out and use a lot higher quantities of it calcium you know nitrogen a lot of these things can leach out or use in higher quantities and some people say well I've been doing it for years I haven't seen any problem and I assure them if they took a cell test they would find out they already have the problem what happens is is if you keep putting the organic matter on you keep it on you keep buffering you doing what you do as buffering that excess but the day will come where you can buffer it anymore and so if you're kind of it's kind of. Hidden from you you're kind of covering it you're not really seeing it it's happening. This happened in the the Amish in the Mennonite communities to really high degree they use manures of their primary fertilizer source and after years of putting it on everything one of the things that one of the things will be an indicator to you is when you're your vegetative crop starts tasting bitter like if your broccoli starts tasting bitter or your leafy greens itself have more of a bitter taste to them. That's a good indication that you have exceeded the boundaries on this particular phosphate You can also be potassium that's a result results from that. So and people typically apply organic materials at rates that are way way way beyond any natural system what any natural system would deposit so and a lot of people dealing with think about it because you know I only put a half inch on I know people put the engine 2 inches on but I only put a half inch on well that was 50 tons the acre of organic material a typical natural system they put down 10 $1520.00 so you just you're you're at least 2 and a half times more and I know people have put down you know $150.00 tons every single year and they're going to get themselves in trouble and some of them already have and they've moved on to another farm because erect that one in 8 they have to move on to another farm and so there's a lot of there's a lot of ideas out there about what works and what doesn't work and a lot of people are applying these ideas with not really knowing what their what their soul is made up of what the capacity that soul is and what should be there and what shouldn't be there and they just keep I see I see all the time people who. I can tell what their favorite fertilizer is because it always shows up you know all of their samples will show up high excessive in phosphate and these are commercial growers to conventional growers high in potassium you know. You have different areas of the country where all of the limestone Corps Adullam Nightline and Aryan Kentucky they're all high calcium lime Well most of the samples I see in Kentucky are all excessive in calcium most of the ones I see over North Carolina and Virginia are excessive in magnesium is because of the line that they're using all the time because they were told they just need to neutralize or soil with by putting lime on and most of the time they don't even they don't even know whether they're. But the idea is they're not looking at the nutritional aspect of it you know I'm putting these on as nutrients and just putting this on to neutralize the PH they're concerned about the PH and so they're just putting on to neutralize it so believe me I see all kinds of issues that develop and you can kind of tell what the what the character of the growing growing area is based on and what's being pushed and what's not being pushed depending on you know some of the things that people can create problems for themselves and people people create an awful lot of problems for themselves they just could avoid and they'd be a lot better off sometimes not spending anything and they would be spending something because they're spending it on money spending it on things that are actually creating a word a bigger problem for them and sometimes the deception of it is that sometimes it makes things look better for a short period of time for maybe one growing season it gives you a little kick as a result of it and let me use dolomite lime is illustration dolomite line is calcium and magnesium is usually about twice as much calcium as magnesium and this is something that most agronomist don't even know or pay attention to when it starts breaking down about a 3rd of the cows for the 1st year and break down or are about a 3rd of the calcium has to release out of there before any of the magnesium will start releasing and so they put this dolomite Lima on and they get the push from the calcium this great you know effect from putting the calcium on and then the magnesium hits the next year and the next year and also things go worse so you've got to be really careful because a well this worked great but then also and things went went bad and I've got several. Fruit orchards over in North Carolina and they all seem determined that they have to put the light line on whether they need it or not. I keep telling them you give yourself and of what. Because it and what is magnesium do remember what I said What is magnesium do you have a net increase of magnesium in a net decrease of calcium over time and these guys are grown apples and you need lots of calcium and Peaches Eve use even more calcium. To make sure that that core develops right and that the fruit itself develops right in everything and there so it gets harder they have more and more problems with their fruit and everything but haven't learned a lot of some of them have learned a lesson so far but the bottom line is you need to know what what you're so what your soul actually needs and what crops you're growing and what kind of removal rates you're doing and intelligently apply what's needed not just follow the crowd and just put on whatever's you know and I have a lot of growers say well it's too far to bring in it's all dull in my line here is too far to bring high calcium lime and I said well it's up to you. It's going to cost you in your yield in the quality and so some of these guys wound up having to go into the juice market instead of the fresh market they took a huge hit on their income because what you get paid for juice apples is not the same as what you get paid for fresh eating apples I touched on the the idea that a modified climate at one point can be an advantage and at another point so in the spring the fall when it's giving you warmer temperatures protecting your crop it's great when you get into the summertime it's hot it's humid you say what does this have to do with the what does this have to do with the soil managing the soil well when that when those stresses increase that increase of stress on your plant and that requires the plant then needs more help from the soil and the microbes in the soil and it may not be able to deliver what's needed to keep that crop you know to deal with the stress that that plant is getting. And another excuse me another thing that happens. As you can your soil temperatures can increase to a point where your microbes shut down and are not functioning very well anymore because it's so temperatures too high I've told people to go in and take a so pro and put it in your soil you know in the heat of the day like that and you'd be surprised what the temperature is there so we always put by the time we get to that time of the year we always put a mulch down on on the ground to shade it to keep it from that keep that temperature cool or we actually use a either a straw mulch or we use different things sometimes we'll use peat moss if we want to increase it depends on what we decide to use that any given year we've used different things we've declared compost where we just put it down on the surface and we didn't incorporated in. We've used rice halls because rice holes have silicon in and we wanted to increase the silicon levels in your soil in our so. So it kind of depends on what we're trying to achieve and what we have access to that may be you know more economical compared to 11 thing or another I tread lightly when I when I discuss this subject because I'm sure the you've heard a lot of different ideas about how you should take care your soil and everything here and I'm not here to tell you I'm here to tell you what I have experience and what's worked for me in my experience and I just encourage people to. Try to learn some fundamental principles about how so as opposed to work and what what should be correlating that with some biblical principles to make sure that those are you know consistent with what you should be and then you have to work your way through some of the information you're getting at some of the ideas that people are sharing everything I use what's called the Albrecht model it was established near 80 years ago now. It was pushed out it was it was actually widely used and was tremendously successful but it was pushed out by the chemical revolution. Didn't it wasn't compatible with selling its soluble fertiliser years the objective of the models to stabilize the system and allow the system to begin maintaining itself to the highest degree that it can. It's a model that it's demonstrated itself for those 80 years worldwide the thing is that the model it's not the soil type that you have it doesn't that's irrelevant to the model the model should be able to be applied anywhere you'll hear a lot of times that that this crop needs this and that crop needs that are used blueberries for example I work with a lot of blueberry growers and I don't we don't grow blueberries these growers don't grow blueberries the way they're conventionally grown we grow in a balance oil ph is winds up being around 6 between about $6364.00 and about so that's that's really where it lands all the time. And it's based on you know complete fertility to those plants and the plants produce better yields they produce higher quality berries. As a result of that and we don't have the time to go and get all that all now why that is but you'll be told you know on a different problem I guess Paris one needs a Ph of 7 or higher PH what you're being told is these different ph is the age ranges mean that certain nutrients will be more available at that ph range but what if your soil in a balanced system what if your so already had enough of that why would you need to alter the PH of it already had enough of that. I had a I had a blueberry grower in western Kentucky who followed that regimen already and are in a manganese of the big things why they want to lower the PH Because And there's another when issue with nitrogen which is really not an issue once you understand it but. He lowered the PH of his soil and he had plenty of iron he had plenty of manganese which is to the big nutrients that blueberries need and He created a toxic aluminum and manganese condition in the soil and it was being taken up into the plants and damaging the plants and and his crop was not really marketable because it was like a hazardous material. So I just say ask questions about why am I doing this way for example blueberries that's where they found blueberries grown in the wild in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey and Michigan and Maine an acid sandstone formation they tolerated that and that was a very poor fertility so the PH had to it was naturally low anyway but you've got more in a Magnes a situation like that but it's not it's not really the best way to grow to grow blueberries and so I don't pay attention to PH I understand ph understand what it you know what it's the potential issues are related to the Ph But I have blueberry growers that are growing I have one blueberry grower that's growing at a Ph of 8 and you're not supposed to be able to do that but and there's reasons why he's able to do it and. We have some issues with bicarbonate that we have to address because it's trace elements we're having some issues with Trey Songz being locked up by that but you know he's growing blueberries and so ph is just telling you what the amount of hydrogen in the soil is and if it's low if you have an acid PH What it's telling you is your alkaline Catalans your Auckland forming Callahan's calcium magnesium potassium sodium some are water so some of those are missing. And so and which ones are missing you don't want to just put something back on alkaline back on to neutralize the PH What if it what if you're missing calcium you're excessive in magnesium and if you used all my like I was talking about before you just made the situation for a year it's going to get better and the next year it's going to get even worse than it was before and so you know I don't use ph as an indicator what I should do I use a sound model fertility model and how much of these different new change should be and still to get good structuring and good neutrino availability in the soil I personally still test every 6 months and the reason for that is you know you're to I grow my crops it's a high value crop and it can make a difference you know the soil test cost me 65 dollars and it can easily cost me hundreds if not thousands of dollars if I don't if I don't keep things everything where it is so it's a really cheap trade off to be able to know keep right on top of you know if you're grow on a field crop that you don't have that big of a margin on everything once a year and some you know once you get a track record on on a crop you maybe can jump to 2 or 3 every 2 or 3 years because you know what kind of new tree you know the conditions in your so you know the nutrient removal rates you're dealing with so you may be can stretch it out but good information leads to good decisions and good decisions lead to good outcomes if you're guessing. Sometimes that you hit it and most of the time you don't and so the better the information you have to work with the better off you'll be another thing that I shared in the class earlier is there's a myth out there that that nature is advancing it's evolving a lot of people say it's evolving but the truth is that nature is already functioning at the highest level that it can function and maintain stability. OK so let's just take your garden for example. It can function at a certain level and maintain stability and the health of those crops and let's say you have a really wet year and it's overcast a lot and it's high humidity and everything so you have less photosynthesis of the energy levels are low or some or the opposite is really hot sunny all the time it's hot dry you're putting it an additional load of stress on that system and a lot of times you exceed the capacity of that system to maintain stability and that's usually where you run into issues with diseases and paths and and problems with your crops is because you've exceeded that capacity so the objective is addressing soil fertility and managing your soil is to increase the capacity of that system to increase its ability to be productive in fruitful and to maintain stability all of agriculture is intervention you'll be intervening it's just a matter of how you're intervening is it in a way that I use 2 different terms in a way that imparts greater life to that system greater fruitfulness greater stability or is it imposed and this is what a lot of agriculture does it imposes on that system to get the increase and why because we have to have the increase we have to on a continual basis if we don't have that increase we're going to perish and so so a lot of it's imposed on and how do they do it and this happens not only with conventional growers of houses with organic growers and and just about every other spectrum of school of thought out there is what typically happens is. Well I'll just use the conventional part of it what typically happens is by the types of fertilizer you use you you degrade the kodo clay in there that's holding nutrients. And when you degrade it you orphan a bunch of those nutrients and they use those new trees to grow the crop you also burn out Koto humus and when you burn out the collateral humus you also orphan nutrients and that's how you get your crop you get your production but what happens in that situation is that you just degraded the capacity of that system it's now lower the capacity is now lower on that system and this is what we're seeing happen in agriculture and food production throughout the world it's sinking sinking sinking sinking it's not going up it's not it's not advancing there's no inherent ability nature is not holding anything back it's not saying I'm not going to give it to you because I don't like you it's all always functioning at the highest level it can to preserve and sustain life and so it's our it's our responsibility to exercise the Dominion that God gave us you know he gave us dominion over what we're made of which is the dust of the earth he gave his dominion over that we're doing a pretty terrible job. Stewarding it. So I think that as as a people we have a tremendous opportunity in this area to to really you know faithfully address that. The soil and and build it back into a stable productive condition I I can tell you that I use the term taste and see the Lord is good when you actually when you actually have a complete and balanced system the food product that grows there will blow people away and I'm not kidding when I say that I have a quaint 2 who sell does the same thing that I do grows out in California he sells at the San Francisco market I don't know if he still do and he may be retired now. And he started taking a video camera to the market with him because he was give samples he grew heirloom tomatoes and he grew sample a get put samples out of all the different heirloom tomatoes and. People come and take the samples and if you ever eaten something in your saliva gran's glands cramp and everything and he would take video these people he just had it set up get in the videos people and they take it is go Oh that was wow that was so good he said and people start asking what do you do and different than everybody else because there are other people growing the same varieties same heirlooms and everything in fact he had one he had at one point time he had the mayor of San Francisco and the whole. City Council and so huge number of corporate C.E.O.'s and everything they were his clients his customers and they try to throw him out of the market by the way because they he was charging $4.00 a pound for estimated their Bales was charging one for the same varieties and he was selling out and they were taking theirs home and somehow or another that was gal Jim. And so but he you know they had a meeting in the end the city council came in on it and you know they tried to push the idea that he was galloping everything like that he said I'm giving people $4.00 worth of food and you're giving him one and they want the $4.00 worth of food and unfortunately for him because there could have been some politics involved in it the mayor and the City Council were customers. I said Now that's not going to happen there was one he told me so in these stories I just think you should share a minimum share a couple of my own experiences. Is one of these corporate C.E.O.'s that came to him and and he just flatly told him he said you know you spoiled me he said he said I sit in my office all day long wondering which one of your tomatoes I'm going to have for supper. Now. The standard the standard is been lowered quite a ways to what people expect from food and so when you give them something better and that's what we're supposed to be doing whispers to giving people something better they notice that I had a I had a doctor who would travel 2 and a half hours one way twice a week to get produce and one day I asked him I said I just felt bad for someone to have to drive that far and I said you know you're not able to find stuff that you like closer I just feel bad you drive and and and he said believe me we've tried and he said we cannot find anything like your produce and I said if I have to drive 2 and a half hours to one way twice a week to get it that's what I'm going to do and he did it personally then send somebody else to do it and and then he said to me said let me just tell you what it does to us he said when we eat your food we feel better we get along better with each other we sleep better when we get up in the morning we're looking forward to the day we're more optimistic we're hopeful if you don't think food is a way of Minister ing and witnessing to people telling you right now that it's that it's a tremendous opportunity because it's a neutral venue everybody needs you know it doesn't have any stigma with it and so the opportunist rez we've taken dozens of people off all kinds of different allergies just by giving them you know complete food is made right it's grown well he was just coming into his pocket he said Let your food be your medicine your medicine be a food I have a pyramid and I don't because I don't have this this this life here I have a pyramid it actually shows you how that happens when it becomes when food does become medicine and it's when it gets to the press down an overflowing level. When the plant is producing surpluses producing more than it needs getting more than it needs it begins and I will go through the whole process but when it gets to that level you know some of you may have heard of things it's a big thing right now essential oils and they're about essential oil well they're like Turpin's in bio Flav a noise in Title X. ins and we call them different names depending on what crop is coming from what plant family is coming from. But when the when the plant gets to the place where it has surplus energy it builds that it builds that energy those lip is as oils into these essential oils and when a plant when a food gets to that level where it's building high levels of the essential oils now you have medicine and when you consume those whose It will do dramatic things to your health the unfortunate reality is that there's not a whole lot of that kind of food out there we need to make that food available not only to ourselves but to to others question was you know how does so read to you know rotating crops effect so testing. What we typically do you don't have to rotate by the way as long as you maintain the fertility of the soil you don't have to rotate what happens is if you don't rotate you don't tainting fertility as you typically get a instability in your nutrient balance and then that starts to cause stress is that to cause problems with crop if you are going to rotate what I typically do because certain crops are going to pull more of someone seen in the other is you can just take a representative sample of the whole areas like you're moving it around you'll keep a reasonably balanced so you can just you don't have to take a sample of every different bed or whatever the year you're growing in when you rotate as long as you're you're doing a consistent rotation then you just take a representative sample. And typically what I do is I take the probes out of at least 6 different. Areas that were growing something different in one poll in a sample I'll take you know from the where we grew Brocket brassicas where we grew to made is where we grew potatoes and so that I have kind of a composite of what what the condition is and it I haven't any problem maintaining a good balance that way or overshooting it here and a comment was that you know after you know better growing for 3 years to made it for 3 years that feels like you need to rotate that's a that's a preference that the grower has is this side has to make a decision about that how they feel like it's it's affecting we actually we actually don't grow the same thing year after year in the same place we will go to several years sometimes and then we usually move it you know something else in it has a different routing profile or you know it will put a lagoon crop in after a heavy nitrogen pulling crop to get some replenishment of the nitrogen in the SO that way. So yeah it's just about are a preference of what the grower wants to do and so there's no either way as you know it and there's nothing wrong with either way yeah raised beds is another thing that you know I always ask the question why are you putting in raised beds now there's 2 reasons why you might want to put in raised beds one is you have soil is poorly drained and so you want to raise it up some to get get a little bit area better area where that it's not wet the other the other reason you might put raised beds in is because you have poor fertility and so you want to raise it up to concentrate your topsoil Now both of those issues can be corrected by proper soil fertility. So it's a matter of do you want to expend the energy to do that or do you feel like you need to do that in the interim until you can get it straightened out or if you're not going to address the soil fertility issues in that way it's a structure issue and it's fertility assumed both of those could be can be straightened out this media was brought to you by audio person a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse for you would like to listen to more sermons Please Visit W W W dot audio Verse dot org.


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