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Advanced Soil Science - Part 6

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
    4:15 PM
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All right so I walked you guys through this. But you guys through the process of trying to figure these numbers out and figure out where these. What these numbers mean so we did all this math here and essential E. It's given us a recommendation of the new nutrients we need and then for this particular sample you go back and you find that there are values Well I did some rounding that changed a little bit but essentially they're recommending there are the deficit that they put in here is pretty close to what it is here in this example except I believe. They average out the use of think they use a slightly lower percentage but it's relatively relevant so they claim my deficits $857.00 pounds of calcium I came up with $754.00 pounds so they were actually running 68 percent and I suggested $65.00 so I did the math on $65.00 so on the magnesium it was their kind of deficit is $55.00 pounds but they were looking for 12 percent base that originated 15 that extra 3 percent actually makes quite a difference again with potassium I believe they were looking for for about $140.00 here I got $140.00 here so they shot for 4 percent I shot for 4 percent that's how they got to $140.00 pound deficit they didn't make a recommendation for sodium I decided I wanted sodium to be 2 percent of my base saturation so I came up with $53.00 lb deficit they did not claim a deficit in sodium so this is how these laboratories tend to come up with recommendations. They're very general. They're not I guess if you will sail a one size fits all but you know this part of the country there are so many folks that are out in the deserts and they have issues with water quality and they have issues with carbonates in their soils and car carbonate in their water and calcium in their water that it gets sometimes very difficult to balance that nutrition you can't just take for this example soil in New England where you have a lot of industry traditionally you had a lot of acid rain acid rain rain and generally static but acid rain is even more so a static so every time it rains you're washing away your cat ions this is also in a sandy soil where the water moves through it rather quickly real close to the river those nutrients go down in the river and they're gone. So in this particular example you see that really what you what we had with such high or low acidity high hydrogen concentration or high base that duration of hydrogen really what we had is a slow that has been stripped going this is also referred to as a weathering and this is something you tend to see in the tropics a lot where you're soils are very acidic all your nutrition is in some sort of organic form in the trees and budget Taishan that it's growing there so this is what really troubles people about the way that they're deforesting the Amazon is tropical region you go through you've got all this timber down and Yalit out of there there's really nothing there to build another big tree because it's gone so those are the challenges in those type of systems. I know in some places in Honduras and in things of Guatemala that similar issues but here we're talking about a sandy soil in New England that's been farmed for about the almost 400 years. They've been farming the Connecticut River Valley for a long time and haven't always done so in a very intelligent manner and you end up with soils that are very deficient like the one that we tested here as well as this one way at the end here that also is 39 percent and very deficient in calcium as well. Potassium and the seal is the one that was growing alfalfa pops off it since really like alfalfa potassium so you see that pulled up off a lot of potassium out of that soil but you know crops every crop is different so what you can expect to be removed when you're growing something varies from crop to crop OK I want to go back and. Oh yes OK. So I spoke mostly about. Balancing so I'm going to talk a little bit now this may seem complicated to anybody yeah it does take a little getting used to you know if you're going to do it yourself it takes a little getting used to if you want to pay an agronomist or somebody to recommend it for you it's nice you can just give it to them to deal with to come back and tell you what to do. Because you often. But. I didn't really want to make all the spreadsheets because or the slides for 2 reasons one I was running out of time you can see I got the last hour and I've got to pretty much my 2nd to the last slide but I was I didn't want to talk about it so I want you guys to understand that it's really important when it specially was based with this particular approach of base saturation balancing that calcium and magnesium together 80 percent in some situations you can push calcium up higher but you should always have about 68 percent calcium to 12 percent magnesium if you're in sandy soil you can push your magnesium up higher to about 18 percent and crops tend to remove quite a bit of magnesium as well. You know they take all these nutrients up every single one of them but calcium and magnesium are taken up and run in rather than relatively high numbers so I tend to run a little bit higher magnesium because it tends to be. Taken from the soil in higher quantities then. I should say higher quantities How should I say this I guess is the base saturation of magnesium can go down quicker or faster or be a better word. In one crop year than say for example calcium so a RIP I repeat that's an example so that you guys possibly understand what I'm trying to say so one growing season maybe you'll remove I don't know 200 pounds of calcium for the acre or whatever it might be you may lower your base saturation down to 60 while magnesium if you lower it 5 percent you know that that's a 3rd but in calcium if you lower it 5 percent you know it's a real small percentage of the overall amount of calcium you really want in that soil so it's safer to run that magnesium a little bit higher. In places where you know that acid rain is an issue. You you can really push the calcium up higher and Rob that percent base that trick to push your ph up a little bit higher because it's going to end up dropping off after a year or so so you can play around with the for the most part the general rule of thumb is these 2 should calcium and magnesium should be 80 percent potassium usually want to keep it at 4 percent if you have grapes or strawberries or other fruiting crops that you may want to push this is high of 6 percent in some instances even as high as 8 percent but you don't want to get too high because of the start getting past you know after a percent really after 6 percent you can tend to block the calcium it just. Really depends on the crop you're growing in the genetics and how susceptible they are I mean I have certain tomatoes like recorded blocks that are very notorious for blossom in rot so pretty much as soon as you go above 6 percent it's over it's hard to control it on that once you've got to get it back down. Others are more resistant to it so genetics sometimes plays a role sodium of course should always be half of potassium and or lasts in some instances I would not push sodium that high if I were to push potassium that high but in some scenarios people have very high. Sodium levels and it's difficult to grow in those soils I. I would like to push potassium a little bit higher because and I also sense it but again you know I want to my my instinct is to want to raise these 3 that's really what we tend to want to do is to raise calcium magnesium and potassium in a sole that has a lot of sodium but the problem is that most oils that have too much sodium are usually really drive soils and arid environments where you don't have the luxury of being able to wash those nutrients away so it's a challenge growing in those sort of soils for sailing Yes sorry yes sort of soil. Another thing I want to talk about I didn't really. Get a chance to make all the power points but in this particular book that a lot of you've come up and taken a look at he makes recommendations and for different nutrient balancing but everything kind of works off of itself because if you start to look at I'm going to. Get out of the power point here we're going to take a look at something that I did so I I like to. A lot of math right and today we got things like Excel so you make a spreadsheet and you throw it on there. I just made a spreadsheet this is what I tend to do I just put all my emphasis on the side here and it does everything else for me but essentially what I wanted to say so on a spreadsheet like this I'll have all the nutrients on the left column here. And you know I did the math here so I'll see if I can remember some of the stuff off the top of my head so of course here's my base saturations that always equal 100 right whatever I got in there neat the Golan 100. Pounds for the acre which comes down here C C desired C C magnesium that I found C C that we found the desired levels here potassium that I found C C I found desired levels here so when somebody asked me for any advice on consulting exciter I tend to just take this whole example plug it all in here and I might make some minor changes inside the column here depending on what they have and Anyway bumps out everything you need on the right but essentially the spread sheets pretty simple where. Once we've got calcium magnesium potassium and sodium under control now we start to look at phosphorus what's our fossil for us and phosphate in this particular lab to give it to us phosphate you've got to divide that by point 44 where that will tell you how much you actually have in Foster elemental phosphorous how you multiply that by point 44 you get elemental phosphorus So it's confusing sometimes because some labs might tell you phosphate labs might tell you elemental phosphorus So you've got to make sure you know which one you're dealing with here because it's the elemental phosphorus that should be about 1 point one percent or whatever your potassium is and then once you know what that is your soul for should be half of that so you see how your soul for relates to your phosphorous which relates to your potassium they're all connected. And now we go to. The zinc down here at the bottom and zinc is why remember correctly I think it's supposed to be 10 percent of your phosphorus. And then you're copper supposed to be half of your zinc this is these are these numbers that I'm talking about are. General recommendations of where these nutrient level should be based off of largely off Alberich but then people who have taken his work and then continued to expound on it and this gentleman is just one of them so these numbers come from this book the ideal soil handbook. Let's see I think that covers a Boron that should be OK So if you have $10000.00 parts per 1000000 of that's too high we'll say $4000.00 parts per 1000000 which is filled relatively high. And so I $4000.00 pounds to the acre of boron then you should have 4 part I'm sorry $4000.00 pounds of the acre of calcium then you should have 4 parts per 1000000 of boron see how that works. It's. All these numbers you know I don't expect you to remember them but if you buy this book you'll read them and then you know you might be like wow how the world do I feel I don't have all day to figure this out so then you just start putting it on Excel spreadsheets most people can build something this simple it's not that complicated molybdenum usually put in very small quantities of just wanted to part from 1000000 per acre 121122 parts for 1000000 that's like half a pound to 2 pounds and very very little very very little so these nutrients like molybdenum Cobalt again is usually just a part per 1000000 or half a part per 1000000 Boron zinc manganese sorry I didn't talk about iron and manganese so manganese should be or iron should be has a manganese or manganese a slice of iron Have you want to allow everyone to look at that so iron should be the number of iron how much iron you have should also be based off of. Phosphorus and it should be about half of phosphorus So unless you're growing blueberries or other acid acid loving crops that tend to want more iron and Magnes and manganese then you sometimes will double or triple that and you actually have the iron in the soil about equal to phosphorous and so most of it's coming from that. So I just use this is an example. You can do that. I have a lot of things in here I don't like to share this not because I don't want you guys to have it but because I have so many things in here that I think would confuse people and then they would be making mistakes I'd hate to people make mistakes I'd rather just tell you the information and I mean probably I would share the 1st quadrant but everything else is really a mess I don't want to give it to you and then have you make decisions and then you know this didn't work you know or I'm in a mess and you know so I don't typically share this I hardly ever even show it but I just put it up here because I didn't have the power points to discuss what I was trying to discuss. Oh yes other graphs So this is. Calcium as it comes out as it leeches out of the soil you know I have this is actually in where I grow and I just wanted to share this I said because I keep bringing it up but anyway so this is week 31 of the year when I planted you know when I was way up there at the beginning I had about 80 percent of a saturation in the media of calcium by the time. You see as I start to take you know as the season progresses I'm taking samples you see a drop and then I begin to apply gypsum in line and it. Comes up and then I start harvesting and it just bone tanks. Actually this is just an outlier that that that's that's not right I'm sorry that's an outlier there the magnesium. Stayed consistent relatively consistent. But again I was adding a lot of magnesium magnesium easy to add sodium it doesn't go anywhere that also was 0 the multiplier was there also dumped everything down but reality is everything was there I never really added any sodium sodium doesn't really go much of anywhere that's why it's so hard to work with with the sort of oil so they don't need a lot of sodium so when you've got a lot of sodium in your soil it can get really tough to work with. Especially if you can't leave it out. Here. See 90 chloride So now we look at nutrient averages the red line is the actual yield so from you know every week you're harvesting and we start at 0 our peak was probably about 13000 then we drop but then this gap right here was really corresponding with mysterious drops in calcium as you start to take the data and you just watch it and you look at these trends it's really amazing to see what happens as you swing from Bay saturations of calcium of 85 percent all the way down to 35 percent and then you go back and you reflect on what you did during the growing season and these are just things that you have learned about the week so you know you start to make corrections and then boom you bump back up to about 78000 pounds a week this is just greenhouse production and just looking at nutrition so you take things like this and you think about your garden What do you do in your garden you know oh so I grew you know so many pounds or you know people come and talk to me I started growing everything was great and then you know after a couple of years everything has got terrible and you don't realise how much nutrition you're mining out of your gardens and your farms are pulling that out of there you know this is it's incredible how much you pull out of the ground. It's just examples and I'm just showing some of my experience that some of the things I've been seeing with this of course this is in greenhouse growing. These are those are ratios and these are the actual each 8 levels if you look at your actually change levels nitrogen I mean it's just flatline you start high at 1st the crop sucks it all out by the time you build all that factory get loaded down with fruit you really don't need nitrogen I mean I hardly running nitrogen and I never stop analysis never comes back and thousands on the fish and. You just don't need that much nitrogen nitrogen is oftentimes use way too much overrated but you look at other nutrients and you know you see these drops like that I mean you just see these trend lines and I mean it just follows the science it really follows the science over and over and over again so anyhow I just wanted to share that with the guys that keep bringing it up and talking about it and how the rest is a lot of data so no to compost are created equal so now there's a company out of Vermont has Vermont compost it's a really good compost sure but it's $200.00 a yard you know nothing I mean it's great if you're just going to use it I mean if you're just a gardener at home and maybe that's not too bad you know a yard is a lot of compost that's 27 cubic feet I mean that's probably about 15 bags or whatever for 14 bags or 14 bags of compost and that's a lot of nuts a lot of compost. Yeah I mean yeah for starting feelings except for because it's already comes free an ocular waited. Till you got the micro rise A in there you've got a lot of the. Children and Tara grow except for all these expensive than Auckland's are already in there you have a mixture of peat moss you have a mixture of compost you have for light I mean anyway when you grow something in this compost it's pretty inoculated which is great but I mean you're paying a lot of money for it. When you get compost that you can go I mean compost comes so many different ways forms and. Here in Oregon there was a guy that went out and bought a bunch of compost from I think it was the city of Portland or the City of Salem I don't remember I think it was Portland municipal waste left to be waste and then he tried to grow basal in them so he put a whole bunch of compost it's like a $5050.00 mixture of compost and something else so he started planted all his bail and so all this base will super cool erotic you can figure out what was going on so it dumps a bunch of. Nitrogen in it it's not a general high didn't fix the problem crops the carotid so he called. So science another friend of mine is also so scientists and what's what was going on with my crop you know I mean I called the extension agent to tell them don't nitrogen down nitrogen down the crop is clear Roddick what is going on I don't know get it tested take a sample send it off to a lab comes back we had something like 30 percent of a saturation of sodium. Why was it so high it was food waste restaurant waste restaurant waste compost and restaurant waste. All the salt the food so you go and you get this you know this one is like. Compost varies so much that you can't just assume that because it's got the name compost that it means it's going to be good stuff you have to understand what the raw ingredients were so in some cases you know the vegetable waste is an excellent compost for some people under some conditions assuming you know what those raw materials were if it's strictly restaurant waste chances are it's probably high in sodium you know so I maybe I wouldn't recommend it so much but even some of the better compost that I have seen are still really high in potassium. And if you have a lot of high phosphorus levels and you keep putting this complex down to elevate your phosphorus as well I can try to have some taste so how do you and then improve your soil is what you have and my answer is for you that oftentimes you cannot you have to haul sun then if in most cases you have to haul something in fix your problem and then you can begin to start some sort of cycle of you know growing something and then producing your own compost and then bring it back again. And growing again continuously growing so that you can maintain that where occasionally add a little bit of this or a little bit of that but for the most part that's not sustainable if you're looking to actually take an algorithm approach I mean it's not realistic if you're looking to make an album pro-choice because you're so out of whack you've got to bring something in so that's my argument is you've got to get it ready you know now is the time to start doing something yeah you got to do something for another you've got to be prepared you've got to be prepared once you get the thing right you know there's a lot of farms that start off and that's why it's so hard to start a farm it's not just that you're trying to start a farm and all the complexities of starting trying to start a farm but usually when you try to start a farm the soil is way out of whack and you've got to get that right so you know if you want to quit your day job and start farming and that's what you feel your calling is out encourage you to find a piece of property get it tested and get the nutrition right. And then maybe quit your job and start farming while you still have your day job you know. So then and then you know when you can fix some of these things or maybe have one spouse working in another one working on the farm or something like that somebody a lot of people do that one spouse is off the farm and another spouse is on the farm you know in order to get the farm going and then once the farm gets gone the other spouse quits in the 2 of them keep farming. You know so the thing we got to understand folks is that God created this earth and everything was good he called it good because of sin he brought the flood and he destroyed this earth and since then the lifespan of man went from 1000 years down to about 100 some change if you're lucky so something drastically drastic changed after the flood and there's a lot of theories about what that happened about what that was but there's no doubt about it that had a lot to do with flooding that flooding changed the structures of our soils and our soils are totally out of balance because the I mean it's the great fountains of the B. deep burst open tectonic plates started moving mountains came up Nash went in the I mean so many things happen and change the surface of this earth that whatever that balance that perfect nutrition was that God had in the Garden of Eden and and and to Deliverance Inge got to enjoy is gone it's not there anymore so no matter where you go you're going to be dealing with some sort of them in balance just like us we all have imbalances in character everybody has something that's wrong with them you know these these 2 guys are both sinners but this guy has a different problem this guy I have a different problem they have you know we're all sinners and we all fall short of the glory of God but we all have different things that cause us to send and it's the same with soils all have different shortcomings and different sets of excessive neutrons that are excess so it's just out of balance. We have to work with that like we have to work with our characters there's no easy way out there's no way that we can get to heaven without Christ you're got to get you've got to get it from someplace else because it isn't there right now unless somebody has been working really hard to get it there and keep it there so there's just no easy way out there's no easy way out. With a lot of this there simply isn't you got to figure it out some people get lucky and they get so is it are in pretty decent shape I mean yeah they're out of balance maybe but they're pretty decent shape but most people don't the entire mess is like the. Power Point of the samples I showed you where things are just way out of whack. You know here's a test of some compost I had tested I know I'll get compost I put in a bag and I tell them that's that as soil and they did it as 8 inches though I wanted 6 but anyway see the exchange capacity is 10.66. Pretty common for compost the PH was 7.2 That's not necessarily calm and all that common. You know but you're phosphorous a 1083 that's this is well over a 1000 pounds. You know so you have to actually take these numbers we figured out and go backwards and work to figure out what a pound of that compost actually is but I think that comes down to when I did a test to something like for every yard of compost you put down you know for every 10 yards of compost that you apply per the acre it's about the equivalent of 10 pounds of potassium if I remember right and similar number for phosphorous and you see here you have 766 pounds of one to the acre you know wanting 443 so if I were to try to grow something in this compost by itself you know I would have what an excess of potassium. My magnesium would be about right calcium would be about right sodium would be a little on the deficient side phosphorus would be a little high and that's just so for would be deficient and then of course we've got a look at the rest of the bottom of this we look at our base actuations you can see this is a calcium is actually a bit high but this is these are hardwoods that were wood chips and decomposed so you don't tend to see that in this part of the country this is actually an accomplice we bought New England potassium is almost 7 percent sodium is point 84 other bases are 4.2 Boron is a little low iron is about half of what it should be manganese is a little deficient copper is about what it should be a little low but almost what it should be Zinc is a little high and aluminum is a little high as well which is rather strange when I saw 701. Parts per 1000000 parts per 1000000 in that and compost there so. Yeah it's actually not that bad no no but you know either could get some pretty decent production out of that right but the thing is that's just this compost I can show you other ones and they're WAY different they have almost no calcium and they have huge numbers of potassium and you know the simpler the wrong gradient the higher the potassium so this compost was made out of strictly wood chips decompose Actually it was made out of decomposed tree stumps so the guys go around and they grind all these tree stumps out where they pull trees out they take all that stuff they take it off the yard somewhere and they compost it and then after a while they sell you the compost. You go and you buy compost that's decompose That's food waste of vegetables and plant matter it's going to be way higher in potassium way higher in phosphorus why because those are actual plants versus just wood there's a tremendous amount of liquid in this and that needs to be broken down still yet I mean has been completely broken down so it's just it's just not all to compost or created the same and then of course they would have a much higher sodium level as well even even if it was an excess of it would definitely not be deficient like you see here point 8 for which what we would think is a deficient but I wouldn't really call it deficient for compost. And then you also got to imagine say I take that to some organic farms it's common practice to be applying something like 40 yards to the acre 40 yards of a lot of compost to go and spread 40 yards of compost for the acre I mean it's something there's something more there than just nitrogen and nitrogen is not a good excuse to be using compost you know if you're trying to get your nitrogen levels up compost is not a good excuse you have to realize that you're getting all this phosphorous and potassium too so if you are applying compost to manage your fossil eared nitrogen you're going to overdo your phosphorous and potassium OK I don't know all right and he's asking about silicone some publications I know I'm not familiar with the publications just thinking of I'm also not familiar with the research that was done out of Rutgers University in New Jersey but I do know the effect that I've seen from using silica and they it is a necessary nutrient most soils are deficient in silica specially soils that have been farmed because people don't ever think to actually fertilize the silica but I started using silicone the form of as a mite and as it might is 64 percent I believe silica it's amorphous which means it breaks apart very easy and then I think it's like something I remember right 2 to 5 percent or something like that immediately available to look up so when you use that as a mite it will raise your silica but you also get. It on practically every other mineral in the periodic table of elements because it's actually volcanic rock. But it happens to be very high in silica So when I again to look at it calcium are the 2 main nutrients that bond cells together so when you get that silica in there along with the right levels of calcium you see believable resistance to fungal that the genes it's rather impressive once I started using that I almost have no powdery mildew or any downy mildew or any of that stuff it just really and my leaves are huge I mean about almost as long as my arm on tomato vines. I still don't understand how I have such because. Every time I look at my leader Massey I try to cut him back a lot. But definitely calcium and silicone phosphorus are the ones that build the skeleton of the plant I didn't talk about bio char I know that there's actually quite a bit of research going on and about bio charger using bio charts for a couple different things one of soil remediation trying to trap heavy metals but another one that you're really looking at what you're doing is. Essentially those images I showed of these weird complex carbon structures that's kind of heart is it's just in it can increase your soil scout on exchange capacity but the other thing that is it tends to drastically raise your ph and it's hard to bring it back down very hard also if it comes from the right type of wood can be pre-loaded with a lot of calcium. Again that would have to be really hard work. So if you're making bio chart out there is probably not going to have levels as high as you would see. 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