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Simple Soil Science

Alan Seiler


Not all elements are equal when it comes to your soil. In this class, we’ll discuss how the Big 3+1, the Middle 3, and the 5 Dwarfs are critical to growing strong and healthy plants. You’ll also discover the important steps for taking more accurate soil tests.


Alan Seiler

Operator of Better Together Farm.


  • January 17, 2020
    9:30 AM
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Dear Father in Heaven Lord I just prayed that you would open our minds and hearts that you would give us understanding of your creation around us because Lord your thoughts for us are thoughts of peace and not of evil to give us a future and a hope especially in our agricultural endeavors because you put man in the 1st garden Lord and you desire for us to be examples to those around us and Lord you desire for us to have success and you have made laws in nature that work in particular ways so that we can have dependable Reese results if we're willing to follow and I just pray that in this interaction you give me words to speak that they might find a place in each one's mind and they might be able to practically know where to start at least Lord to go forward in this venture in your name we ask him in. Ok so 1st question what does a Harvard University have in common with soils or how our soil is like Harvard University Ok so any thoughts here I want to hear some thoughts I know it's kind of a it's an interesting parallel but this is a good conceptual comparison so any ideas. Complex. Yes God. Sorry. Fertile ground Ok Ok some people would say opposite her to. But yeah Ok Fair enough yes. Always learning these are good good comparisons yes or. Hard to get into Yeah there are some comparisons there hope we can break out of it way in the back there. To tighten 2 kinds of education Ok anyone else will take sorry. It's a school Ok Very good well by comparison with a little bit different than those my comparison here isn't Dal meant Ok Harvard is how it is it's the number it's the large has the largest down in the us probably in the world. They have an endowment of $38000000000.00 for Harvard University and it's like Wow what could you do with that type of money. But it's true this is their endowment currently for the university and I believe they are from this in down and they got what was it down to 1600000000 and yearly revenue from that endowment so how an endowment works is basically endowment supply money by working off the interest of the endowment so you have a lot of money and you said hey I'm going to put in the bank the bank says Sure put it in our bank will give you interest on it and then obviously that interest compounds over time and so an endowment takes the portion or most at least take that portion of that interest that's earned and they don't touch the money that's in the bank they just take the interest and they use that to fund what's going on in many ways soils are very similar so it works very much the same way each element in the soil and we're going to go over the elements in the soil is a certain size and down meant to make sure that there is enough money or nutrients actually being supplied so let me go to my next slide here so I make sure I don't repeat myself Ok so these We're going to talk just just a bit of outline this is kind of what we're going to try to cover today the big 3 plus one which I'm referencing elements here the middle 3 the 5 to war and we're going to go over to a good soil sample so so how this kind of works is that I think of of an endowment right you have a large amount of money that by interest right is yielding a small a smaller amount of money that you used to fund things right and that's the same thing in the soil so for instance let me give an example of white phosphorous Ok if you take phosphorous the idea levels of phosphorus in the soil with the tests that I'm recommending are 222330 pounds of phosphorus in the soil Ok now that amount that you see in the soil the plant is not accessing that entire amount the plant might be axed. Scene 5 pounds to the acre in the soil solution around all the little soil particles but you have to have that much phosphorus in the soil to make sure that much trickles down so that the plant can have access to it does that kind of make sense so the big amount is the endowment the small amount is kind of the interest that's constantly being bled out and that's how all the elements in the soil work you're putting in a larger quantity to make sure that the smaller amount on a weekly basis is actually getting to the plant so it's a really good analogy of how it actually works in the soil so we're going to go over. The big 3 plus one now the reason that I'm going I have this division is because if you're farming and let's say. The best way to visualize this is let's say you have absolutely no not absolutely nothing in your soil but let's say everything's pretty low when your soil and you're wanting to build it up Ok which elements are going to give you the biggest bang for your book which ones are what it would be considered primary elements than their secondary and then there's traces and that's kind of what we're going through here which is basically to say look if you don't have these elements you're never going to get down the road it's kind of like saying these these are the big 3 plus one and the reason I do it that way is because most people don't think about the plus one the reason that it's like a car in some ways you know there's certain components like the plushy leather seats in the car you know it might make your ride nice or you know a nice grip for your handle but you know ultimately you just need a steering will for wheels away a motor and you know that car will go down the road so some of these elements are really really critical they're used in large amounts and then as we go down if you were to be prioritizing how you amended your soils you would say Ok I need these because I don't get these the other ones really are going to make a difference for me does that kind of make sense so it's a stair step you know priority not all elements are as of high value. Or as as important so we're going to go over the big 3 here so most of you have heard of nitrogen Ok so does anyone give me some some things what does nitrogen do any ideas. Green leaves Ok it's involved in promoting cell division which it's grows things grow you put nitrogen it's going to grow nitrogen for most crop productions if if a farmer is coming to me and say hey I have a limited budget we're always going to budget for nitrogen 1st hands down because it is the one that is basically if it's not we're not good if it's not there in good enough quantities we're not going to make the crop Ok it's involved in chlorophyll development which is bringing in photosynthesis it's all involved in protein development it's a very critical amount and it just in larger quantities than most other elements So nitrogen is the 1st primary element and you want to make sure that you have it now nitrogen is kind of the one of those trickier elements because it's best addressed on a crop by crop basis so for instance. Lettice might require 150 pounds of nitrogen to the acre in order to get the crop tomatoes for a 60 tonne crop might be somewhere between 30450 pounds to the acre so it's best to drip addressed on a crop by crop basis but you're putting that larger amount but think it's that and down and it's going to have that trickle down effect Ok And these are overarching concepts and principles here but nitrogen would be primary the next one would be phosphorous or p. phosphorous is secondary and the reason why phosphorous is behind nitrogen I mean you need both of them these are the 4 big hitters right but phosphorous is what encourages root growth and certain elements like calcium can only be taken up at the tip of the root so you have to have continuous root growth or tip growth to have optimum let's say calcium uptake but also it builds the root system so the think of it this way think about who lives in a big city here like Atlanta or or Dallas or things like that Ok Do you ever suffer from traffic right Ok so you know what I'm talking about so phosphorous is like putting in more highways into the city the bigger the highways and the larger they are the faster the things can get and the less traffic the less hassle so if you don't have good phosphorus level like I said 222330 pounds to the acre according to the tests that we use. You're not going to build enough highway system to rapidly get the nutrients into into the city right so that's why that one is the next Ok potassium would be then the next one and as you can see m p k this is a base what you see on fertilizer packages and that's why they're considered primary because they're such a big hitters and they open the system up so that you can take all the smaller ones and if you don't have them you're not going to go very far potassium is involved in all sorts of things it's involved in water utilization in the plant it's involved in just the structural and. Cell walls hardening up the cell walls it's an incredibly valuable element and and cucumbers let's say an average cucumber crop 860000. Let's say 450 pounds of nitrogen to the acre potassium might be up at 700 pounds as far as what the crop will take up from the soil if it's given the chance for that type of tonnage so in some ways potassium is more used in the plant than even nitrogen so it's a heavy hitter Ok so the big 3 plus one any idea what the plus one is. No. Sulfur soul for will be taken up as just a higher quality quantity as phosphorus in the soil if you look on an element by element basis and solver is our next primary element it's used for protein synthesis it also increases nitrogen efficiency very important in the plant and some growers have had issues where they'll apply calcium and magnesium let's say into the soil but they're sulphur is really low like at 4 pounds to the acre and if you don't have sulphur at least. 100 pounds to the acre calcium magnesium on most crops won't you won't see the benefit from it even if you get those levels up so that's why it's considered primary because calcium magnesium have a hard time functioning if sulfur is not an adequate quantities. Ok So sample soil Ok so the next part is the middle 3 Ok and the middle 3 as you would expect would be calcium would be next followed by magnesium. And then followed by sodium but now calcium is used. In calcium packed 8 which is the glue that holds all the cells together in the plant so for instance if you've ever had blossom in wrong on tomatoes or things like that the reason is that you have the cells are being glued together sufficiently because you've run into a deficiency and the the callous there's not a house calcium getting in there to actually formulate and glue the cell walls together so it's a weak zone and then the macro biology in the bacteria can break down that cell wall easier and get into the bottom of that tomato because it's less forming part or the newest growing part on that. On that part of the plant Magnesium is really important as well. Magnesium actually is important for phosphorous to get into the plant so if you have enough phosphorus deficiency it could be because you have a magnesium deficiency or if you have a magnesium deficiency it could because you have a phosphorus deficiency so they interplay with each other. The the interesting thing about these guys here especially now potassium falls within this range of calcium magnesium potassium and sodium and will go into this a little bit later when I talk about testing the only way to deal with these are adequately available in the soil is to know your t c e c number and the t.c.s. t.c.c. number is basically a measurement of the soils ability to hold potassium calcium magnesium and sodium it's a number that you'll get on your test and based on that number will tell you how much of these you need so we don't know what the size of the endowment needs to be for these elements and potassium if we don't know that number Ok because each element has its own and our meant that it has to reach to be to have enough interest coming out to supply the plants needs. The other elements there's pretty standard phosphorous will always be 222330 pounds to the Ig or other elements like. I guess solver is 102300 pounds to the acre but these guys are a little bit trickier because you have to know what's called your t c c number to be able to know how to deal with these Ok And for those that went to my class on on what was that Tuesday will will remember how many of you remember the talking and whispering into you need to know your number right that was driven home quite well hopefully for all of you that went to that class Ok so the 5 towards Boron. Iron Man Guinea's copper and zinc and I'll just briefly go over each of these Boron is used. Actually you get better calcium and magnesium efficiency into the plant if you have adequate Boron Boron at levels above $1.00 parts per 1000000 in the soil will help to get the fight against rust and fungus disease it's a very important element it's also involved in pollination so if your plants like you have not getting good blooms set or fruits Boron can sometimes be the culprit. Ok So Byron iron is is used in the plant it's a part of it's not involved with photosynthesis but it is a precursor to behavior to have successful photosynthesis a really important element their. Main Guinea's is. Is involved in lignin production which is actually what holds up and structurally kind of makes a plant work it's also involved in it helps with disease resistance the manganese will if you have adequate levels can actually make hydrogen peroxide that's pushed out the root zones which is actually a defense mechanism for the plant according to some research sources copper in the plant is used for cell wall strength and rigidity So for instance if you have an orchard and let's say you have a heavy load Ok and your branches starting to binde Ok and sometimes it snaps and breaks usually if they snap and break instead of Bend it's because usually you have a copper deficiency in the soil it copper is the element that allows for a cell wall to city so that when it bends it doesn't break it will actually come back obviously there's a point where anything will break but that's one of the key things so cracking or radial cracking on tomatoes it's really involved in cell wall strength of the plant so very important there it's needed in small amounts and you have to have a somewhere between 10 to 15 parts per 1000000. For adequate that's here and down and right for that particular element is used in. Activating oxen's in the plant in oxen's as think of it this way the sun comes up in the morning and your plant tilts this way to right capture the sun and then as the sun goes over the plant tracks with the sun what causes that take place is the hormone oxen and zinc is what actually keeps it going and it's involved in and cell wall growth and expansion and stuff like that so the sink also is very important is actually one of the 1st to realise micronutrients is that was ever realised that it was a limiting factor for plant growth so those are the 5 door us Ok. Now this is just kind of an overview so if you're going to be prioritizing your amendments in the soil the same man I gotta have these things. This is how you would want to to prioritize it now it is interesting Mr Harnish Your Ok So Mr Harnish is here his soil up in Canada it has a super good phosphorus level it's almost about 300 I think it's about 330 right on the upper levels of phosphorus content but he was very very low in potassium but he was still having decent production because the posture is made such a good and vigorous root system that the stresses amount of potassium that were there or he could still take up enough in man tain production so even though the potassium levels weren't let's say ideal for his particular situation he still was able to maintain decent growth but but now that he's got his potassium levels up he's he says that it's done 50 to 100 times better I don't know. To induce crops so he's had good success but that's that's the idea if he would've had this ideal phosphorus level that by adding the potassium it wouldn't done a much difference because he would have had enough root mass to actually take it up so Tom sometimes you can have deficiencies in your plants just by virtue that you're not primarily you know you see what I'm saying you're not you're not getting your primaries primary so like like the things that make the main things the main things right that's the that's the idea here and you'll have much better success now. So how do we know how much money or nutrients we haven't eaten down and like that's the question right because then it's then at this point now we know the prime you know the how we need to structure this and which ones are primary secondary and trace Now what we need to decide is how do we how do we know what these numbers are how to how can we move in that right direction how can we find out what's going on and really the only way that we have to do that is is soil testing and so I want to go over here real quick how to take a proper soil test and this is really important Ok so how do we take a soil test now what we're recommending is that people take a 6 inch sample Ok because this is your robot zone and 80 percent from my understanding of all your nutrients is are going to be taken up in this top zone and so this is where you want to sample and you want to sample out a consistent depth over your area consistent sampling death is very important to getting consistent lab results according to Bill McKibben book The Art of balancing soils which I recommend it's a good read especially if you already have some background in soil science but even if not you know sometimes it's good to crack into these harder books and try to understand and start asking questions probing one inch deep or you can cause a 70 to 20 percent difference in lab results which is significant when you're trying to balance the soil and know what your endowments contain for each particular element Ok. So you can mess up your lab results if you don't if you do improper sampling so it's not just sampling at 6 inch depth but it's consistently sampling at $0.06 depths over time because you want to have corresponding results every time you do it because so I have had a friend that called me up the other day he's like hey I want to send some soil test off to the lab you know how do I do that and I said Well well 1st how deep are you pulling your samples from and he's like oh I've told them from 12 inches down and I say do you have a way to turn 12 inches of soil over I mean that's going to take quite a bit of hope horsepower to do that and he's like No I only have about I can only turn about 6 inches and I said basically what you're doing is you're diluting your sample by a 100 percent you know because you're the same volume that you're saying that you're going to manage you're going beyond that the full length and so you don't know you don't know what you're you don't know what those results are and then when you bring those results back it's diluted and then you're going to apply all of that just to the top 6 inches you're going to unbalance your system and it's not going to work so well for you so doing consistent sampling depth is really is really critical and I didn't even realize this. Until recently and I'm just like yeah yeah this is really important Ok so probe size I use a half inch probe and these guys are not that expensive and it's well worth the investment because it makes soil sampling so much easier Ok so let me go through a few points here Ok soil samples are the mean average of the number of probes that are taken from the area of interest or from the area that you're sampling which is pretty common sense it's a subset of your area right. So here are some pointers that I want to point out smaller and more equals better when it comes to samples so basically you don't want to just pull a sample from one area you want to kill enough samples. From your entire area to give yourself a good representation of the area so what we recommend is that a minimum of 9 probes per area that you want with a maximum of like you don't want to do more than 6 acres Ok with one sample so so 9 probes equals one sample and you don't want to test more than 6 acres out of time using this method they get to be on the scale of the from on up most of the guys here are not model coppers or large scale growers so you'll never reach the 6 acre Max But for those that might be doing it I just wanted to mention that that's about the max and you want to make sure that you're testing within the same soil type as well so it's not just saying I can test any given 6 acres it's also saying oh is this alone and then it transitions into a clay I'm sure people you know on your property that there's different soil types usually so up on the Hill might be a little different than down in the valley it could be a sand in the valley then going to Clay on the hills you'd want to test those separately if there's transitions because you want to have a representative sample of a particular area where Roughly speaking you know that soils drin generally the same type Ok And then if you take $96.00 inch probe samples using a half inch probe it's going to be about a pound of soil and that's about the amount that you want to send off to a laboratory no reason to send off 3 or 4 pounds it's not going to make that much difference and it's just going to be a lot more money to ship it into the laboratory so a minimum of $1.00 pound but I wouldn't I wouldn't go over that. Ok. Eroded hillsides where not to sample Ok so here are places that you want to avoid eroded hillsides or low spots where nutrients could be swept into a low area and concentrate if it's a large enough area though you could sample it separately right terraces ditch banks gravel roads that the minerals that make up the gravel could be Leach to the side of the road you don't want to just go and take a probe and then go 50 feet over away from it and take a probe and put those in the same sample bag you want to divide that up if you if you really want to sample along the road just make sure that you're your composite in similar areas animal droppings urine spots burn piles manure star hay stacks. Areas around the shed barn and or where buildings have formally stood lime fertilizer chemical spill areas and fertilizer bans areas of high concentration that could throw your sample off and areas that he you have treated differently so for instance if you're saying oh this half of the garden I'm going to try this type of fertilizer Amendment in this house farm not you don't want to come back in and test those together you want to split each side and sample it separately just kind of common sense stuff so that you know that the results you're getting back or are what you're wanting Ok correct packaging. I'm going to point this out since this picture is up here I id my samples I have a coding system we can't go into that but I have a simple coding system that I use that identifies a spot on my farm and then I put the date below that and I actually take pictures of my samples that I'm sending off to the lab to have a record on my end of when I sent it off because in the lab since the samples back to you they were going to date it when they actually ran the results not when you necessarily sent the results so I like to take pictures of my bags just to make sure it gives me a double check on the lab if I'm missing a sample and I'm like hey I sent it and then they're like No we didn't get it at least I have a picture of it before I sent it and can see what happened. Ok so I'm going to go over how I take a soil sample here I have one of these little feed scoops that you can kind of get at your local store I use bagel bags from Walmart as the liner and the reason for that is that I don't want one so I can I can take up to 10 soil samples that say at a time I don't want every time I put a noose like let's say I was to just use the scoop thing and then put the samples in there and then pour the samples into the bag while I would be able to clean out all the soil that was in that bat in that scoop that I'd knock the soil in beforehand so by putting the liner in I make sure that I'm not contaminating any samples with each with the other sample and then because it's already in the bag I just take my sample I'll push it down 6 inches pull up the probe and then I'll knock it against the side of the you know I hold it like this. I'll hold it like like this and I'll knock the sample against the side until it knocks out into the bag. So. I. Will. Know you don't want to have to. Put. It that how I. Pulled it. Back or I will go down there when I want to. Or. Just do it on oh it is rare. Then I carry a 5 gallon bucket with me and I just plop the bags into the 5 gallon bucket that have the soil in them and then just carry it around until I'm done and then put in the box and mail it off to the laboratory. Ok so. Some pointers use clean and new bags tape the top of the bag to prevent spilling if you're using like a Ziploc bag if using the bagel bags just by tying the knot in the top it won't come undone and I've sent samples off that way and they're cheaper than Ziploc bags. Make sure you id the samples this is important so that the lab knows which samples which And when you get the results back you know where it goes to and then use simple I.D.'s most labs limit the number of characters you can use so this is kind of funny story when we were thinking about marking our fields out and stuff mom's like oh let's call this field Columbia and this one Argentina and that one you know Germany or whatnot and I said no no no no too long too long it's not going to work the labs won't take it so you have to use simple characters and we use 4 characters with a dash and I can id any bet on my form using just 4 characters. And it just keeps things simple. Ok questions on that before I move to the 2nd little part here any questions on sampling just for clarification yes ma'am so if you're dealing with a fresh area it's a 1st time yeah so it doesn't matter you can take probes Actually I would prefer I set this up for a picture so that you could you could see it this way preferably I would like to see soils tested before they're disturbed Ok now for instance let me give you an example let's say that you're coming in the spring and are thinking about to line up your garden this is a great question by the way. Before you tell it up take your probes and send him off to the lab than Till up adjure amendments when you get the results back let's say and then grow your crop and then at the end of the crop before when you're ready to take it out that's when I would like to see another sample taken at least for our farm because you want the soil to settle down and compact a little bit more because here's the thing if you tilt up your soil and it's really light and lose. When you're not getting the full effect of the 6 inch probe it's light in it's it's a different for lack of a better term it's a different volumetric density it's lighter you put more air in there so there's less soil to volume right in a freshly tilled area so what I would like to see is that when your crops done and it's it's had time to settle maybe had a few rains on the field it settle back down and so my compacted that would be the time when I would like to see another sample taken but does that answer your question anything that's going to change a light in the soil texture I would like to see a sample taken before that activity happens and then let the subtle soil let the soil settle out again before you take another test Yes Or Ok so I treat compost as any other amendment I try to get an analysis which you can use you can usually local extension services can show you where you can get what's called a newer analysis basically they take the manure and they ashit or burn it in a in a fire and basically on the light that's flickering will tell them what the what nutrients are in it I like to have a chemical analysis of the for any input that I'm doing whether compost or otherwise but what I would do is I would take a sample of the soil before you do the compost take to get a chemical analysis on the compost so you know what you're putting in there so that you know what you've done once you're out of the compost so I would separate do it separately. Ok so if you're taking a sample from a Fallowfield that has vegetation on it would you want to clear off that field of any vegetation before you sample. Or at least from the sampling spot no when you send in a sample into a lab they're going to run that sample through a 2 millimeter mesh show any organic matter that's larger than 2 millimeter mesh will be sifted out and taken off the top of the sample so it won't affect the readings on that because they're going to Ok So take 2 types of tests from different labs Ok so this is what I'm recommending from the research that I've been doing over the last few years these are the 2 laboratories that I use this will also be on your handout if anyone didn't get a handout I don't know. Maybe we ran out of handout we ran out Ok see me see me afterwards and I'll try to get you a handout or find someone else with a handout and just take a picture of their handout and that would be a good way to go about it too I use a n.l. labs in Modesto California for what's called the Cat displacement test this lab this particular lab test is only good for finding out that t c e c number it's the most reliable way to find out what that number is so that you know how to deal with calcium magnesium potassium and sodium so you know how to build and allocate the correct endowment so that you have the correct interests coming out to keep your crops growing Ok this is a very important test there's reasons why I can't go into it but this is this is I wouldn't I would at this point I would never recommend any small grower or any small gardener that's wanting to become more serious about their gardening to not start with this test this test that's a baseline for your soil and determines to soil methods that you might use depending on how that number comes out Ok Now Perry agricultural laboratory in Bowling Green Missouri this is the ammonia. Acetate test so this tells me the number this particular test just tells me the amount of calcium magnesium potassium and sodium in relationship to this number this is a completely different test I also use them for testing things like phosphorus sulphur and all the traces which would be the boron iron. Manganese copper and zinc Ok this is the laboratory I use for that general test Ok or the or that basic test this test only needs to be taken once and then your baseline set you know how to move forward this test is going to be the test from this laboratory is going to be the test that you use for ongoing maintenance to find out how your and down in so doing. Does that track Ok so that's how that works now we're going to go over here so why 2 for I guess I just explained that Ok why 2 different test Ok so this is my recommendation for you if you're starting out 1st take a detailed displacement test in the area of interest that you're working in make sure not to test across soil types. Now for instance this test let's say let's say that you have the same soil type across your garden but you've already fertilized one half and you have fertilized the other half Ok this test will not be affected by that as long as the soil type is the same this test will not be affected by the nutrients Actually this particular test they flushed all the nutrients out of the soil completely washed the soil out they really load it with a with a known element and then they wash that out to find out what your t.c.c. number is so this this test will not be affected by what you have done fertility wise what it will be affected by is if you're trying to cross certain soil types with each other so that's really important to make sure that you're within the same soil type an area and you can you can tell by going across and if you don't think you are you know just get your probe out in that just go down and look at the core samples and see if they're similar across your area that's a good way to determine if you're in the same soil area Ok and then the next thing I'm recommending is take. Take a test. Of this these are the 2 methods I should mention this is the slant approach and then this is the b.c.s. our approach depending on what that c t c c number comes back out this thing right here t c c number comes back at all determine whether you use this approach or use this approach to manage those 4 elements that I talked about which are calcium magnesium potassium and sodium Ok if you're between 0 and 8 if you're t.c.c. let's say says 8. Or below which is mostly sandy soils you're going to be using this method but if it's above that you're going to be using this method Ok for those 4 elements those are the only 4 elements that are really tricky. Because because they're so they're so dependent on how you deal with them based on that capacity to hold them in the soil Ok. The lab determines it the lab gives you the number and then based on the number you'll know which method to use Ok. And this is how it looks so if you're going to be sending in to an Al laboratories it's pretty simple this is their sheet it's it's an l. Western agricultural laboratories you should have that on your handout their contact information address and stuff you can go onto their website and get a soil submission form and this is what it looks like and what you're going to do is you're going to you're going to go to this other other analysis area and then you're going to see how this the we're going to zoom in on this you're going to say I want to see e.c. ammonium saturation test I don't know if I have that on your thing but this is the type of test that you're going to request from them and then see they want to know how deep your soil is over here because based on the depth of the soil will determine because that number is based on the volume of soil that you're actually testing so they want to know to give you the correct number so they'll ask you that you're taking 6 inch samples so I would put 6 inches there so that they know what they're testing against Ok now. Now the basic test that we take from Perry lab or core Tories you're going to request the basic tests from them and then you're going to add in the checkmarks Boron manganese kafir and zinc you're going to request those additional test and then under the other test and we're going to show you this you're going to specify for sodium to test which is for phosphorous and then a water ph and this test runs for about 20 $8.00 at at Perry's And this is what it looks like obviously in there and there sheet they have places I just cropped it they have places under here where you can fill out for other samples so you can put like 8 or 10 samples on a sheet double sided but so you're going to say basic test with sulphur Ok and then you're going to check Boron iron manganese copper is ink and then in the other bases it says Please specify you're going to put sodium to and water ph in that area and that will give you all the raw data you need to know where your numbers are now. I will I'm putting with Mark. Contact information up here with phone number it's also on your handout but if you don't know what to do with the raw data it's really worth the investment to work with someone who does and if you take those tests and request those extra analysis you will he will have the raw data in hand to be able to give you a correct. A correct recommendation so I've been using him and I don't get any commission off this because I actually pay him. I've been working with. For to 5 years it's been a good huge learning curve for me but anyways there's his contact information and his email address and I would suggest emailing him before you just send the samples in so he knows you know that you're going to send it to him in the lab to email those. Actually you can you just forward them to his e-mail address I think. He charges like $20.00 to write the recommendations for a soil analysis if you provide him that t.c.c. number that will help him write the soil analysis better and it gives you a foundational baseline to go off of her future management of those calcium magnesium potassium and sodium so that's the critical critical part there. And so it's not just important for us to know this but I feel like Adventism has a great opportunity to be a leader on the world stage in soil science and to help make a difference because it's not just about producing more food it's about producing food that actually has true nutritional qualities in it and so this is a big deal and a lot of the math and science that goes behind these calculations were directly. Studied and researched by a guy by the name of William Albrecht he was the chair of the soil science at the University of Missouri and his specific objective was not just to increase yield for growers but how those but how adding nutrients and balance in the soil how it affected human health that was his objective which is not the objective of the pharmaceutical companies in the agribusiness day it's pretty much all about production so anyways. It's a great book and it's a good thing to get started but that is simple soil science the Nutshell to get started hopefully you can know where to go from here and. The questions anyone have questions yes organic matter is met mentioned on the test. That I'm recommending as a default here's the thing with organic matter Ok when plants. Are running at high efficiency and we get the mineral balance load right plants will actually any plant can actually add organic matter to the soil by fixating carbon from the air but the plant has to run a very high efficiencies which means that you have to take care of your and down mints there's a guy by the name of the. Oh what's his name his last name is Kim He works with a company called advancing eco Ag I can't remember his 1st name when I say it's John Kemp Yeah and he grew strawberry plants out in California that had very very low organic matter in the soil like below one percent and after a year of doing stuff like this increasing and making sure that plants run at their highest efficiency they were able to go from like one percent to 3 percent organic matter just in one growing season and if you know how difficult it can be to build organic matter. I mean that's the ideal way of building organic matter to get your plants to high efficiency so that they see question their carbon from the air and actually put it into the root zones of the plants to feed the micro biological activity so he's actually shown that to be the case and that's that's the way I would go after it now this is not discounting adding compost to the soil there are certain places and times where compost can be a huge benefit we're actually using it on on our farms but like I said before compost is bringing things into your system and you need to treat it like any other fertilizer it's best to take an analysis so you know what you're putting on so that when you do take test you can start dealing from cost to effect if you just put it on and you think that compost is all the same or whatnot you won't know what's what you actually did and so it's all about tracking the numbers and knowing what you did because if you know what you did You can repeat what you did and we can all benefit from it oh I should mention that so yeah here's another thing with compost out a friend. Built a really nice who pass. And he went over and got some compost from a neighbor and he put it on his field in his greenhouse there planted his tomato plants in about 2 weeks later all the tomato plants started dying and what had happened is here's an idea that's very important thing so you really need to know where your compost is coming from what the feedstock that's being used to create that compost is. Because some people Paul like horse manure and horses are usually from you know grass and Bermuda grass is commonly sprayed with a herbicide called to forward to your graze on or Pickler am and that has about a 5 year half life or 5 year residual So if the if the animal eats it they poop it out and they make compost from that you put that on your soil unawares I know several growers that have ruined for 5 years they're growing area because they weren't careful about what was in their compost so that's a really good point I would actually if you were to get a compost and you just want to test it take some like bean plants or tomato plant and planted in a pot with that compost before you put it on your soil if the plan survives and does well then it's probably you can use it but if it dies then don't touch it. You had it you had a question yeah she asked my probe is longer than 6 inches I have actually have it I took a little file and actually filed a mark on my probe so I know that I don't go beyond 6 inches it's about right here like these probes are used for all sorts of things right not just agriculture so they make them a standard size usually so because some people might want to go a lot deeper to see what's going on but. Yes ma'am so the question was do I use a shovel to dig out before and then put the probe and know I push the probe right into the profile as it is. Yes or. So she's asking about like what's that lab turn around time and then. How fast you get the samples on after you get the lab results type of thing. Yeah. Yeah that's a good question. So it's about the 1st part of the question as far as lab turnaround time. If you send it directly into the lab you can get it turned around within 8 to 9 days Ok which is pretty quick. And I do my own calculations for my soul now so when I get those lab results back you can get it in a c.s.v. file which is kind of like a universal spreadsheet and if you make a spreadsheet you can just copy and paste the data. I. Sometimes most of the time I manually input it into my spreadsheet and then within a few seconds I can get a result for what to do for my farm so it's a pretty quick turnaround time as far as now that the there is a bit of a debate on this. As far as how long you should let the fertilizer sit some people say 2 weeks before you plant. I'm constantly rotating crops I don't always have that luxury I would rather put it on and get it working and plant my crop in than to not have it in there in the to run out down the road that would be my recommendation and in a lot of these amendments if you get a recommendation they're not going to tell you to put on more fertiliser than the soil could handle that would cause problems so there would be they put limitations on that so I would say you'd be pretty good applying it at any time you don't want to apply it so I made a mistake one year I've said oh I'll just over a broadcast this because my crops are there already in the ground and I want to get it on there a lot of these fertilizers are fairly concentrated and fairly dry and you'll ruin your plant leaves than you want to do it before you plan anything down and you can get some problems let me take some more from the back here real quick yes or so the question was do I have a hard time getting my sample out of the probe if it's muddy Yeah it can be a problem I wouldn't say that that would be a reason that you shouldn't probe you just gotta get a screwdriver and actually let me go back to this there's different prob styles that you can purchase I'm probably going to be transitioning to this particular probe style. This one right here because as you can see it's got a lock on it so that when you push it then you can get your pro but then you can slide it apart and then you can slide it out there so there's different probes styles that you can use depending on on the circumstances this is like a $69.00 probe. So but for our farm we test fairly intensively and so to to buy a probe It's like buying a good rake you know from Johnnie's or something you're going to be spending quality but. Here's the thing for me it's all about making it easier and because of that you know I I'm I'm kind of lazy sometimes I don't feel like going out and taking my samples I know I should but I don't feel like doing it you want to try to reduce the barriers that are going to influence you whether you take it or not so having a good probe can make your sampling a lot quicker probably a higher likelihood that you're actually going to take it and that's important factor yes ma'am yes so we are we are we are testing we are going to be testing and I have actually done a lot more of this I took about 40 samples last year this last growing season here's the thing. Most most people will test once a year Ok. The biggest learning that I've ever made with that with my soil is enter your testing so let me give you a few examples. A few years ago back at our old farm I was doing this once a year testing thing and my crops would go really well for about a month and then they would just start really croaking on me and it was like man what's going on I don't think the soil balancing systems working well you know all this kind of stuff and it was really frustrating so once you I just got so fed up I'm like you know I'm going to spend the money and take another sample and I found that my ph in my soil had gone from a $64.00 which is you want to be free tween $63.00 in $65.00 let's say 64 had gone up to a 7.2 and if any of you know how ph works it's a logarithmic scale which means that from going to a 64 to a 72 is a see here that's an 8 times difference of concentration of hydrogen in the soil so it's a huge shift when it comes to a soil mass and so it was like where did this come from I haven't been adding anything why is this happening you know it was a fairly heavy soil which means it had more buffer capacity so it shouldn't have shifted that easily that quickly come to find out our water was a credibly hard I never considered water as a part of the soil balancing system and basically our water was pushing the ph up in our soil when you get above 7 you start walking down availability of phosphorous you start losing iron copper manganese efficiency it starts to precipitate out of the soil and it's no longer available and so but I would have never known that unless I took an intermediate testing during the year because what would happen is that the end of the year I would stop growing stop irrigating the winter rains would come which would push the ph d. back down and then when I took a salable sample in the spring again it looked fine and so you really have to that's another thing that I didn't mention here but there's this it's this and the people that went to my class know about this it's called the golden puzzle soil chemistry and soil science is a part of that puzzle but so as microbiology so is kind of goes to well Anyways the point made earlier as well you know why don't. Organic matter a lot of that comes to microbiology which is another thing water chemistry what water you putting on your soil some situations the water is so extremely bad that you cannot balance the soil by adding minerals if you don't take care of your water 1st so it's something important to keep into consideration you're trying to track all your inputs and all your outputs and water is the biggest in put water the soil will become what the water is not the other way around and so if you're dealing with a bad water source you can you can be trying to balance your soil in the way that we're recommending here but you'll never make it because your water is constantly whacking you out so. See it was we were like civil soil science and it's like you know there's a lot more to this so we can go into that so. Most laboratories agricultural laboratories will take what's called an irrigation suitability test you can write that down any laboratory can do it it's not like soil testing where I want to use a particular laboratory and I've done comparisons between laboratory and that's why I've said on the 2 that I'm recommending based on the research that I've done but water testing it's standard it's more like chemistry there's not going to be huge variances between the laboratories you use so get an irrigation suitability test and what you'll find in that irrigation suitability test will be the hardness of the water things like essay are which would be sodium absorption ratio so like for instance especially out West where they have a lot of sodium in the water if sodium is the dominant cat ion in that water or the dominant element it can mess you up so fast your hair will curl I mean it's it can be really really bad and it will take a lot of for medial effort actually we I recommend that anyone that buys a farm it's important that you test your soil to know chemically and chemistry and capacity wise where you are but I would I would I would try to avoid buying a farm if I didn't know how much water I have and the quality of that water and you want to test your water during the driest time of the year so usually for us here in the northern hemisphere it's going to be August and September you don't want to test in the spring when you all got those nice spring rains and stuff in your water as deluded you want to test at the worst time of the year when you have the worst water quality into the driest in and all that kind of stuff this media was brought to you by audio for years a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about. 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