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Advanced Soil Science - Part 2

Michael Trevizo


Farmer, Agricultural Reformer, Production Manager at Five College Farms, & Soil Scientist with a focus on Soil Science and Agronomy; Education: Bacherlor of Science in Crop and Soil Science, Oregon State University.



  • January 16, 2019
    9:30 AM
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Now I want to talk about base saturation what that is percent base saturation and then of course oil nutrient balancing or should we say base Sacha or a percent base saturation balancing OK I think there's some now if you get this book right here is talks a tremendous amount about base saturation balancing That's Michael if there is a book the ideal soil handbook so I'm going to talk about that now so we spoke earlier about that on exchange capacities Well neutrons and so solution and plant root exchange or these nutrients explain exchange with the plant roots so. Base actuation is the measure of total bases in the soil so when you go back and you look at this and you take that sample we're going to say how many bases anybody remember from chemistry class what a base is base those of the positively charged to the cat ions So when we say based saturation of the soil we're asking how many bases carry ons how many carry ons are in that soil. When we say percent they saturation that is the percent of the soils carry on exchange capacity that is occupied by a given nutrient a calcium or magnesium etc. Base at your ration and percent base actuation are not necessarily the same thing in the literature I just want to show that for you I'm going to focus mostly on percent based saturations because bass actually ration usually does not include aluminum and hydrogen because of course what is Ph. The negative log of the concentration of hydrogen ions right that's what it is in chemistry so ph is just a measure of either the hydrogen or the hydroxide. If we're less or really is actually most of the hydrogen So far enough if we have a PH or less than 7 then that means we have more hydrogen ions than we have hydroxide ions floating in our social solution right in our which is in this case our soil solution. If we are greater a PH is greater than 7 then we have more hydroxide than we have either genes are OK so we don't really focus on hydrogen because we consider it an acid and aluminum drives acidity I've talked about earlier So again we don't look at aluminum. Now here is soil sample taken from a field in New England. This was taken at Logan labs so I will report back in 16 from a field in New England this field is actually a grass field now the word has just been a pretty lawn for that or part of 20 years maybe before that it was farmed. Has a speech of 6.4 in the sort it will think a lot of people usually look at I'm sorry I had the cat on exchange capacity of 6.4 which is right here in the center of the $6.00 and then we see our calcium magnesium potassium and sodium and then these are referred to as our exchangeable cat ions that you have or an ions which is sulphur and phosphorus then you have your base saturation percent now. We talked about the percent base saturation what we're talking about like I said is here in this example we have 42.22 percent calcium What does that mean that means when they look to see how many you see value found which is right here 1404 pounds to the acre they concluded at a depth of 8 inches that 1404 pounds of the acre of calcium was enough to saturate 42.22 percent of this soils carry on exchange capacity of the last anybody OK good wonderful So when we look at magnesium we see 9.22 percent the same case for magnesium when they say it's 9.22 percent base saturation that means that the value found $184.00 pounds was $9.00 per saturated 9.2 percent to 2 percent of that 6.24 on top so that makes sense. Now you could have now every soil has a different kind of an exchange you never know it's going to be until you test it so when you come up to me and you ask me questions anything along the lines of What do you think it is or you know I got a farm over somewhere or an idea what my C.C. is no idea nobody ever really knows it varies drastically you come and you ask me questions about I have this problem or that problem what could it be until I see something like this I really don't know what to tell you the and and the thing is when you get your soils tested folks a lot of the exchange universities and some of the other laboratories they don't test them like this and they don't give you all that information. And when you don't get this much you look at you think that's a lot of information but really if you don't get this information then you don't really know if they're giving you incomplete information and it's hard to make decisions and I'll give you examples I don't I didn't have any I couldn't dig up anyone any any way some of the labs of I've had test in the past or some of the samples that I had tested in the past from different laboratories but they'll do something like maybe just test calcium and then maybe magnesium and potassium they don't bother with sodium at all you see this in this example they say they found 27 pounds and then they tell us that our base actuation of sodium is point $69.00 that's very very little very very little. But if you just told me if you don't even bother to test it and say this oil was from the coast somewhere and it's gotten a lot of seawater on it and you don't even bother to test for sodium sodium could have been 40 percent of your base saturation and all you look at is how much calcium magnesium and potassium you have then you're not doing yourself a favor are you here in a desert in sailing soils you could have the same thing Sodexo oils especially the soil is not considered so Dick until it's more than 10 percent based actuation 10 to 15 percent but they don't usually describe it that way they'll say more than 100 pounds or 200 pounds to the acre or whatever number they give you but really that's not was so important as much as it is what's your base actuation because you have 200 pounds of sodium to the acre but you have a base saturation and a cut on exchange capacity of 90 then that's not really a big deal you understand what I mean because your percent I mean I don't I'm not going to do the math I'm going to throw a number out there for example it could be 2 percent or it could be 3 percent based which is not a big deal. Not a big deal at all folks so you see what I'm what this is about is balancing your percents of base saturation that is here Albert's approach was NOT have this many pounds and you'll always be good no matter what now it was balancing the available nutrients in the soil but in order to balance that you need to know what the soil can carry there's another soil sample and the 1st off this one was taken in New England right about 40 inches of annual rainfall and I don't know what they are suppose 15 feet of snow or whatever it is so they get a lot of pursue potations every year are so low ph So my argument here is that low soil ph is something I want to get to a lot of times a tremendous amount of the literature that you read from extension agents and everywhere else really argue and really push PH Oh I got to get my Ph down or I got to get it up or oh the PH needs to be this in the PH needs to be that I handed out some books yesterday on production guys you know tell you want to go strawberries you need a Ph of 6.5 want to go blueberries need a Ph of 4.5 You want to grow a tomatoes they really like it at 6.5 to 7 or whatever and they tell you all these ph is but really what the. It's naked information and it really doesn't matter I'm growing tomatoes and I grow tomatoes very well very excellent beautiful tomatoes at 7 to 8. Why because I don't really focus on hydrogen it's not that important all that ph is telling you is what your base attrition of hydrogen is which normally we like to keep around 10 percent and that usually equals 6.5 ph or 6.5 but it's not that super important I'm grown in artificial soils if you're grown in real soils it gets more complicated. But you still that's not that critical So look at the ph here you've got a 5.2 A 6 point one a 5.9 a 75.2 at the top you look down here at your base saturations of hydrogen you got 39 percent what does that tell you that's an acid soil I'm sorry those are the seeds Yeah those are the PH is $5.00 So what do you see in the $5.00 here and the $5.00 over here they both have 39 percent base actuation in the soil of hydrogen What is that telling you does your PH It's it's linear I mean it's exactly related you don't really need to dwell so heavily on ph folks really it's overrated you've got to get that thing balance both the soil's What do they need from everybody would jump the line with even bother to tell you what's up the line you need probably not so what is the line mean to you calcium I got about one answer was calcium have any other answers I'm sorry a cat ion That's true very true and the other answers what is lying I mean how many people actually I mean farmers or growers gardeners or and here is a few I'm sure you guys are these lime right you go in your liners All right why do you align yourself have to raise at the age people say right how do you know what line you're using the ever look at the bag line to see what it says in the Dometic limestone is a Celtic limestone What's the percent calcium carbonate equivalent eccentric that are those things are important so when you get that bag of line and you decide OK you go to the store I know a Tractor Supply Corp sells them the line that they put it on sell a given you know put up front and center in the springtime there's a line for you go ahead 4 bucks for a 50 pound bag and you know it's on sell blah blah blah you buy I look at the back of the bag I find 20 percent calcium 10 percent 11 percent 13 percent sometimes magnesium well. Both that calcium and magnesium in the in the limestone arms are in the bag lime are bonded to a carbonate that's why it's called calcium carbonate magnesium carbonate it's the carbonate that reduces that PH It's the calcium in the mini's E. I'm knocking that hydrogen off of the coal oil that make that hydrogen available to bond with the carbonate to go away and raise your ph does that make sense. So Dometic limestone For example look at this how you can't really make it out but I don't have a pointing stick and this guy doesn't really where it is so you look at the magnesium That's right here 9.2 percent base saturation you go straight across here 5.78 Bay saturation which one really needs calcium which one really needs magnesium across these 4 here I'd say this one right here right 1st you need to know your well I'll take a step back Where should your magnesium be is the 1st question you need to ask and if you don't know the answer to that question then you probably shouldn't be using Dometic limestone or Where should your calcium be which we know which of these 4 really need calcium Well you need an answer as to where calcium ought to be so you see this is where William Albert comes in he figured out in the $1930.00 S. in the $1930.00 S. He was arguing that the food that was being grown in the 19th thirties it's what year is it $2019.00 so. 80 years ago 80 years ago folks before your grandfather well for some of us as. My grandfather was just a little boy but for some of us before our parents and grandparents were born there was a long time ago and he was saying and the 1930 S. that the agricultural production system of the 1930 S. and twenty's was deficient in nutrition. And that we were headed for a crisis of disease in this country in the 1930 S. they were arguing this so he began to really study disease in animals livestock except for A and how to get rid of it and he started to look for answers in the soil and that's where he came up with soil mineral balancing what should be in that soil so how fast forward to his conclusions for calcium you can't really see it in this but it says right there 60 to 70 percent for magnesium 10 to 20 percent for potassium 2 to 5 percent for sodium point 5 to 3 percent for hydrogen 10 to 15 percent that makes sense so again like we say here this is. The PH is very low here which will always correlate with a very high base that aeration always it's always that way so when we want to balance the soils we need to be looking at calcium and magnesium but Tassie M and sodium and we need to actually try to hit the mark on each and every single one so for certain crops and certain soils you need to change what you want so if you've got a clay soil you really want to run a you really want to run higher they saturation of calcium to try to flock to late those soils because calcium flocculation soils it opens them up the reason why does so more so than Magnesium is because calcium of you remember those plates that I talked about we start looking at plates like this if you're putting If you're filling these plates with calcium. Calcium is a bigger molecule the magnesium and I know you guys are thinking and I'm talking at the elemental level now we're talking about angstroms here but if. 65 percent of this or even $68.00 or 70 percent of that is calcium that's a much bigger molecule then hydrogen for sure hydrogen is tiny extremely tiny So this is 40 percent hydrogen you can see how those plates are all going to come closer together you understand it pulls them closer together so when you put calcium in the ground it actually flocculation that clay and opens and spreads him out and it makes that Clay less sticky and it actually starts to change the color in the clay darkening it up usually so this is one of the reasons why with clay so it varies but usually like it says here we want to be 60 to. 70 percent and I have actually gone as push some soils as high as 80 percent so if I'm working with alkalinity soils what am I missing out of that 100 percent number our clinic soils means a high ph. Which means no hydrogen which means that 10 percent is probably missing so now I've got to account for that 10 percent and I have to essentially say well I know I'm not going to get this oil to be acidic overnight I'm going to have to try to balance this the rest of that 90 percent take that 10 percent and spread it a month amongst the calcium potassium and magnesium unusually what I do is I go after the calcium because it's really really hard to get that calcium down I had a question over here in the middle somewhere. OK so we'll move on all right so soils Here's a saw the same saw here are sort of taken from a field the. Extremely low ph on both fields. Oh here's another interesting thing another interesting point these 2 see these 2 samples that are on the far right they were taken from the same field the same alfalfa field and I just wanted to bring about a look at the drastic differences in this field. And I recall as I remember that this very back portion here yell foul for didn't come up more than like a foot and it was never mowed all year long it did terrible to look at it it's ph a 5.2 its base actuation 39 percent of calcium 45 percent here I'm sorry of hydrogen 45.47 of calcium here and then of course the neighboring field had 61.27 So in other words one was line the other one wasn't why I don't know but as I said yesterday when 50 percent or less of those cattle ions in years when less than 50 percent of the carry ons in the soil I'm sorry when calcium is less than 50 percent of the Catalans in your soil your roots start to fall apart that makes sense your root health tanks big time so 45.47 percent base saturation of calcium that means you're going to have weak roots and a crop like alfalfa Legume with nodules forming in those roots to fix nitrogen to actually grow that crop if you've got weak roots in your pasture fields or in your foul fields you are not going to get good nitrogen fixation if you do not get good nitrogen fixation you're not going to get good alfalfa. Make sense and these soils like this with low calcium are soils that are very very very susceptible to root pathogens or my C. pathogens ask them I see pathogens I talked about pity him I talked about rots. Gal's etc etc anything associated with the roots and pathogen period that's going to attack your roots is going to have a heyday when you've got 45 percent or less or 50 percent or less of a saturation of calcium you've got to get that number up. So again. Here are some phony humus looking at these Bay saturations if you were to say 100 percent Bay saturation of hydrogen you'd have nothing but hydrogen on that call it so essentially what you have in these 40 percent of that is hydrogen so it's really you don't you really don't want to go down that road and which time we got left OK So this now now we're going to move closer to home but he gets home I took these samples in the 4 corners area for those of you that are not familiar with this that is Arizona New Mexico Colorado and Utah so these samples were taken in the 4 corners area I think this one was in Arizona the other 2 are you Mexico but they were within like 30 minutes of each other anyhow so we look at the samples now we're moving to a completely different part of the country so 1st off what do you have for base saturation of hydrogen 0 straight across the board why has alkalinity soils there's not ever going to be any hydrogen on your colleagues OK great now next ph of the soil very alkalinity yet the natives have been farming these lands for an unknown long time they'll tell you forever but I think it's really more like a 1000 years so I don't know how they did it but they've been doing it for a 1000 years in the soil so it's something they're doing something right now look at calcium desired value 646446 pounds to the acre value found 7838 pounds to the acre What does that tell you right there you're in a cow Cal carious soil. Talc area soil that means a lot of calcium this one right these all these fields are really close to each other they're all very similar but this one right here in the yellow has been farmed for 70 years maybe. On and off it was originally settled by the Mormons and they started farming right along the San Juan River while these other 2 fields are virgin land never been farmed and what's interesting is one look at the cattle on exchange about how it's gone down what you're really seeing is a reduction in the actual nutrients in the soil and 2 is the change in ph from $8.00 to $8.00 a reduction in the PH So how do you get a reduction in that ph is largely to do with the fact that you're growing something because remember like we saw in that video what what did the roots do what it plants do to their roots and they send out hydrogen ions in exchange for cattle ions right so when you're growing something when you're constantly growing something those crops are constantly putting hydrogen ions into the soil system and taking catacombs out so out here in the desert you can simply by years of growing reduce your PH course it takes years to do that it doesn't happen overnight but you can see those trends out in the desert and of course you have. You still don't have any base actuation But and also these are sandy soils Why do you have such a high carry on exchange capacity in a sandy soil Normally it's down at less than 10 it's because there's a lot of salts built up in the soil and other words when you sample the soils there are very. For saving soils you have a lot of salts built up from years and years of just no rain things weathering and sitting in these soils so that's why you tend to see high exchange capacities but really what it's telling you is that these nutrients are there and plant available it's just that they're not go anywhere because it doesn't rain and nobody's growing anything so they just sit there. But anyhow this is the condition you have going on you have a say a sandy soil with a low cat on exchange that actual cat on exchange passing but you have a lot of salt in the soil so when you take those type of soils in to be sampled oftentimes they come back with these excesses So if you don't get the right type of soil test you know they just tell you they have we should have this many pounds or that many pounds you don't you don't really see those imbalances you don't have a way to account for them this is why it's so important you get the right type of testing in the right type of laboratory and that they do the right type of extraction methods so I wanted to talk about the order of cattle on affinity Now what this is is carry on's affinity to be held on to the colored In other words which ones are held on stronger remember we saw the video where the potassium was not quite so strong and the calcium would you know be a little bit stronger than the what was the last one there I don't remember iron was the one that held on at the very end Well here's some examples of copper nickel lead Coble calcium zinc manganese and magnesium and you know there's just a lot wrong conduct to Vittie but you don't really need to focus on that essential is telling you this how hard it's held on to there what's interesting is lead the contaminated soils What does that do to your soil OK So anyhow if you get too much lead in your soils it tends to actually hold on to the carloads and it's very very difficult to get lead out of your soil so when you're dealing with lead contaminated soils Sometimes you have to over amend them with things but then when you over and then them with things you may loosen up that lead that lead me in the pen you're prop in the bin you so that's I won't go into farming in the contaminated soils but it's just an interesting thing to know of course aluminum in hydrogen aren't there because they tend to drive a city OK there are there are plants that can take what they call it. By a remediation is what they call it where they can uptake lead. There's a whole thing yes because lead arsenate was used real heavily on as a whole pesticide So now they look at lead and then again part of the reason why they don't I'll So why so hard for many plants up take them is because it's held on there so strong into the soil that it can't release them but if you start to really dump a lot of fertilizers on there and knock them loose you can actually see blood go into some of these crops I really would never really take a lead but there's I don't but a while since I got into gardening and farming in that arsenic oils but for many many years they use lead arsenic to. Fight the different pests and diseases in orchards particularly and a lot of those fields are no longer orchards not sometimes they sell them off and they build homes on the or whatever and a lot of the urban sprawl has been in farmland old farmland and that old farmland is heavily contaminated with lead arsenic. And people don't know that so then they buy these fields in these homes and then they try to go outside and garden and they don't realize that their gardening and soils are contaminated with lead in arsenic and other heavy metals OK So the question is about C C in trying to make C C increasing your C C in your soil and another was trying to get a bigger cup My 1st recommendation for you would be to try 1st balance what you have OK that's going to help you largely whatever your C C C currently is get that balance then it's a matter of growing and introducing organic matter and trying to increase your humans because you're humans have a tremendous accounts which. Accounts for a tremendous portion of your organic of your exchange capacity Secondly certain things like Coca-Cola or peat moss. For Make it like the Collector A can also have very early high T.C. levels so if you can these things are expensive though so my best recommendation for outdoor production and not indoor production is to try to find nurseries that are getting rid of that do a lot deal with a lot of transplants because what they'll do is that they only ever use it once they go out by the Pete monster Coca-Cola Usually it's a peat moss mix with something else. They'll grow. Or start whatever plants they're going to start then the transplant them in those old trays with the soil and everything is dumped outside and it's a waste for in the nav mountains of the stuff and they usually just looking for people to take it away and this stuff is excellent nutrition I mean if you get it you get that stuff and you put it into soils like that like the one you're describing a clay soil with a low T. or even a sandy soil with a low C C and you introduce high levels of. The moss into that soil not only are you going to really plot late that soil increase the nutrient rich most or retention which are also going to increase or carry on exchange with acid in the soil. The artificial soil that media that I put together is a mixture of compost peat moss and coconut core and it's usually around $27.00 of the T. of $27.00 so if you're dealing with a 5 or something and you start to amend slowly you'll increase that number but it's a tremendous amount that you need and it's not necessarily practical to be purchasing it at all if it's just a garden is just maybe you know a few 100 square feet it's not a big deal but when you're talking about acres that's just not practical you gotta you gotta accept with what you have OK The question is can we over do anything if we had a significant amount of hardwood tree leaves that may fall. My only concern would be the same as composting excessively that you could increase your potassium too high especially if you have a low C C soil. That's a challenge just compost only in a Los easy soil is that compost is usually. I mean I could do it by taking a 2nd to find but anyway I always test my compost and I have found some compost that is extremely high in potassium also if your compost is coming from like mean a simple waste like restaurants Well people people like food that has been salted so what's usually in that compost a lot of sodium you can get your sodium out of whack and start blocking your potassium and eventually you've got a mess so if you don't know the compost that you put in your ground. You better you've got to be real cautious with it it's my recommendation if you overdo composting you're going to be in trouble but the good thing is that with potassium if you do get too much potassium in there is that most crops take up a lot of potassium so if you put conservative amounts every year it's a pretty good chance are going to take up most of that potassium so then you don't have to and then with potassium you just keep adding compost. So the question is when you have a I guess or do you assume that the C C is 100 percent saturated at all times and the answer is yes and then what are you doing when you add in his example calcium of you wants to increase calcium so you add a large amount of calcium to the soil what is that going to do that is going to knock something off the only way that I could say it is you know if I had. Blue water and green water whatever and I mix them all together you know I mean they're all fit one bottle right so this is as big as the bottle is so we'll say it's just clear but I want to add some other thing to it when I pour it in there it's going to change the color and the excess is going to pour fallout right that's exactly what you're doing in the soil that's why you shouldn't dump the huge amounts of fertilizers at one time. When you have the serious and balances of something you've got to you you've got to kind of sit down and think about what's practical and what you can actually afford to do so when you're actually farming especially folks that are doing row crops or big acreage you can't afford to do dump these massive amounts of fertilizers down like you possibly could afford if you're just working on a garden that's maybe just a few 100 square feet but it's just a few 100 square feet you know it's not a big deal you can do $10000.00 pounds of the acre equivalent of lime with just one bag maybe or 2 bags or whatever doesn't take a whole lot and so yes it does ultimately Leach the ideal is to try to put them down if you're really out of whack then you have to just accept the fact that you're going to leech some of that out and where it goes usually to the lower layers of soil so what I wanted to talk in the next hour was you know a lot of calculating you know how how to calculate how much calcium to put down how much magnesium to put down per acre and then of course taking into consideration the depth of your saw the hole deeper plowing how deep you're working it and then of other mathematical equations that we have to talk about their. Whoa OK The question is he raises and he goes off and he won the phosphorous is cheap you add extra. If you can you know of course he's got the money to be able to do that and will it be there next year is your question the answer is if you don't overdo alfalfa phosphorous Yes because fall phosphorus does not move when you put it in the ground it does not go anywhere however the exception is the upper Mississippi River Delta where corn belt corn country they dump so much phosphorus on the ground that it's reaching into the waters into the rivers especially the Mississippi River when you get to the point where you're leeching phosphorous you have an insane amount of phosphorous in the ground you needed to stop adding phosphorus a long time ago so yes. It shouldn't but yes it could it all depends on where you are you know where you are phosphorous this media was brought to you by audio 1st 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 if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W dot. Org.


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