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OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

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OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby Dumbo » May 17, 2012 1:59 pm

I sent a soil sample off for analysis (a labrat buddy of mine owed me one, who works in an environmental lab)

These are the results:
Assimilable Phos = greater than 150 kg/hectare (ha)
Exchangeable Potassium = greater than 300 kg/ha
Exchangeable Calcium = greater than 1,000 kg/ha
Exchangeable Magnesium = greater than 200 kg/ha
pH = 6.8
Organic matter = ~6% (dry weight)
CEC (Cation-exchange capacity) = greater than 7 meq/100g
CE (SSE) [soluble Salts] = less than 3.5 millimhos/cm (mmhos/cm)

I've worked a few years as a labrat for an environmental lab... Don't ever recall doing cation-exchange capacity or soluble salts... We tested for specific metals or ions. this must be specific for farming? We were mostly into site remediation and contaminates.

Anyhow before this chemist calls the chemist who did the above analysis... Is this any good? Any issues or problems here? Did I get screwed on the "garden soil" I bought?

In regards to "soluble salts" per some stuff i'm reading it says this is considered "slightly saline". See http://www.extension.umn.edu/distributi ... esalts.pdf, and could be an issue with some veggies.

Before I go banging on some doors and demanding answers, is this actually very bad? Anyone ever have this test performed? Result(s)?

Cation-exchange capacity (a soil fertility test?) is also a new one to me and must also be something specific to farming (maybe). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cation_exchange_capacity

But how good or useful (or true) is this result f I only took samples about 6 inches down and not into where the clay will be more heavy?

Per wiki, if I understood it right, 1 meq/100g =
Calcium, 400 lb/acre
Magnesium, 240 lb/acre
Potassium, 780 lb/acre
Ammonium, 360 lb/acre

Since I have an approx average of 7.5 Do I just straight multiply the above values per acre by 7.5? Is it linear? If so, would the above nutrients be within spec?

I don't want to have to read 12 books before I call and knock on doors. Any input appreciated to help make sense of this. And a bottom line good or bad, and/or if I need to add something to make it better.

TY!

I thought gardening was supposed to be easy and relaxing? I'm going to tell my cardiologist he's full of it. I knew I should have just bought a 3.99$ soil test kit from walmart... less stress.
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Re: OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby OGrubber » May 17, 2012 2:53 pm

Sorry I can't be of any help.
I've only ever sent in soil samples, in the early years of certification [mid 90's], so that I would have paperwork on hand for the inspector. The test results always read like gobbledey-gook, and the recommendations for ammendments were in terms of synthetic inputs which aren't allowed anyway, so the soil testing thing went by the wayside years ago.
You should have a reading for N,P,K, but you seem to be missing the "N" value.
Your ph seems fine.
Your organic matter is good.
Salinity - dunno.
If I get a chance later, I'll dig into my records from back then and see if I can find one of the soil tests that were done.
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Re: OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby Dumbo » May 17, 2012 3:35 pm

They gave no N value. Which is what I found strange. I do recall reading though (in some chem book a few weeks back) that N analysis should be done on spot, or same day or same week. (don't recall) because it will constantly change. Don't know how true this is though, or the reason why I have no N value.

I found an agriculture paper which sheds some light on things (it's a small PDF)
https://njaes.rutgers.edu/soiltestingla ... rellev.pdf

So I converted the value I received into Lb/acre
Assimilable Phos = greater than 150 kg/hectare (ha) = 134 lb.acre
Exchangeable Potassium = greater than 300 kg/ha = 268 lb/acre
Exchangeable Calcium = greater than 1,000 kg/ha = 892 lb/acre
Exchangeable Magnesium = greater than 200 kg/ha = 178 lb/acre

Now comparing what the edu example says, I think the following may be true.

P = optimum fertility
K = optimum fertility
Ca = Below optimum
Mg = Below optimum

Now I never heard of anyone ever adding Calcium or Magnesium, but the rest seems to be ok.. maybe borderline high, but, not in the high category.

Makes me wonder... when you add fertilizer... is it not sodium or calcium salts? So maybe Calcium and magnesium increases as the years go on? So maybe this is a good thing to be a notch below optimum?

Though I seem to recall reading in this forum people using eggshells in the belief that it will increase their calcium... I dunno... Not sure about these two really. I'd have to look up calcium for the plant world. And also look up common fertilizer salts to see if these are calcium salts being sold at the stores, which I have no clue.

The soluble salts & Cation-exchange capacity are taking me for a loop.. oh I just noticed while writing this.. N is given as ammonium.. if we look at the wiki reference copied/pasted below for Cation-exchange Capacity. But I don't understand it. It obviously isn't linear. So I don't know what a 7 meq/100g really means in terms of total ammonium... yet.

Nor do I know if soluble salts means total micro-nutrients like copper or something...

Looks like I will need to look all these things up and try and make sense of it.

At least you made me realize N is there but I have no clue what it means... and I found out about the P, K, Ca, Mg values (or range, per some agriculture edu)

ah well... books it is...
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Re: OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby OGrubber » May 17, 2012 3:50 pm

Ok, found a test result from 2003 .... hope this helps.
test results:
organic matter = 7.1
phosphorous [ P- ppm] = 16 [medium level]
potasium [K - ppm] = 203 [high level]
magnesium [Mg - ppm] = 375 [high level]
calcium [Ca - ppm] = 2880 [medium level]
sodiom [Na - ppm] = 18 [low level]
ph = 6.9
CEC [meq/100gm] = 19.3
[percent base saturations];
%K = 2.7
%Mg = 16.2
%Ca = 74.5
%H = 6.2
%Na = 0.4
Saturation % = 2 [low level]
K/Mg ratio = 0.17
ENR = 84

recommendation [pounds per acre];
lime = 0.0
n = 115
p205 = 205
k20 = 155
mg = 5
Ca = 0
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Re: OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby davefrombc » May 17, 2012 3:54 pm

I'm not a chemist , but those numbers look decent to me.
You complicate things too much Marc. Soil looks good , plants grow well, you can get compost/ manure to mix in. Don't worry about the chemistry set .. You can drive yourself nuts trying to get everything"perfect" .. There's no such thing. Each plant has its own best conditions .. I would guess your pH is right in the range where both acid and alkali loving plants wouldn't complain. If you have ones that need a little more basic soil, a little lime does wonders.
You seldom really need any chemical fertilizers if you have plenty of organics to mix in. Compost all your kitchen organic waste, get some well rotted manure , compost your grass clippings and tree leaves; and tell Monsanto, DuPont and CIL "no thanks" .
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Re: OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby Dumbo » May 17, 2012 4:31 pm

Dave, yeah, you're 100% right... but now I have it so I "have" to know.

Reading everything I can on CEC values the past 45 minutes has left me with a headache.

One thing said "grade G". something else said another thing and on and on. I don't even understand the wiki.

When I look at Ogrubbers CEC value I think i'm catching on though. *I think* This is a total value that represents the holding capacity of nutrients (not different nutrients as I thought).

Found this:
http://hcs.osu.edu/land/archive/land_mar96.html
The higher the CEC, the greater the soil's capacity to store nutrients and prevent their loss by leaching. Theoretically, soils with higher CEC may require less frequent fertilization. A soil with a CEC of 7 to 10 meq / 100 grams has the capacity to store nutrients for about one year of plant growth. Much of the soil in Lake Co., Ohio falls below this range, thus it is obvious that low CEC values do not prevent intensive production. Where the CEC falls below 7 to 10 meq/ 100 g, we need to apply fertilizer more frequently, but at a lower rate to avoid nutrient loss through leaching. Incorporation of organic matter (compost, green manure) is usually recommended to improve low-CEC soils because over time organic matter can increase the CEC as well as water-holding capacity of coarse-textured soils.

So my soil falls into the, "good for holding nutrients for a year" catagory. It says I have to add (increase) organic matter to increase the CEC value. So as you said, Dave, you are spot on.

I don't do composting (I give it to the city and don't want to).

So now my question is? What type of compost should I buy to increase the holding value of the soil to prevent leeching and to increase that CEC value to something like 12?

OGrubbers would likely be good for something like 5-7 years or more. That's a huge value she has! But her organic matter is only a blip above mine. So some things don't add up to me. Guess they aren't proportional to each other.. no clue.

Thanks for posting the info you have OGrubber I will use it later this evening. I'll convert to PPM and see how I compare.

So now I know I should add more organics/compost of some kind... But a high holding compost. Would this be peat moss by chance??

I'll hit the CE (SSE) thing later on, the CEC thing gave me a headache. I didn't expect to be into this type of reading.

I found it all interesting though... Lots I never knew.

EDIT:
I re-read the wiki on CEC. Wiki seems completely off on it (or partially off) they even have a notice up looking for an expert to fix it. So we can ignore wiki on the subject of CEC values. It's off.
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Re: OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby OGrubber » May 17, 2012 4:48 pm

Dumbo wrote:Now I never heard of anyone ever adding Calcium or Magnesium,......Makes me wonder... when you add fertilizer... is it not sodium or calcium salts? So maybe Calcium and magnesium increases as the years go on? So maybe this is a good thing to be a notch below optimum?

We're speaking non-synthetic here - usually calcium and magnesium are a component of any fertilizer you add [compost or manure or composted manure, etc...] but, you can boost magnesium via epsom salts or dolomite limestone, in the same way you can boost calcium via calcitic limestone, oystershell [or eggshell], dolomite limestone, rock phosphate or wood ash. Some are slow release, and some give instant results.
Magnesium is necessary for plant enzyme activity, and calcium in adequate levels is necessary to enable water uptake, cell development and efficient use of nitrogen - so no, not a good idea to be much below optimum. Keep in mind too, that high levels result in toxicity so when plants react, it may appear as though there is a deficiency. When it comes to soil fertility, everything is dependant on, and reacts to every other component.
.... thanks for the rutgers link. I have yet to look at it but hope it'll help me in understanding test results.
... and I see Dave has chimed in with some good advice. Forget the big business fertilizers and go with nature's best.
Everytime I try to submit someone else has added something [laf], so to answer your question about CEC vs organic matter the answer, to the best of my knowledge is: organic matter readings are based on un-decomposed bits of organic matter while the cec is basically the "history" of decomposed organic matter accumulated in the soil over the years. Peat will change your ph if you put in too much, but, if you throw down a pile of straw or leaves in the fall and incorporate it then, come spring your cec value will be much higher.
For the time being, any kind of compost would be good - sheep, chicken, cow, guano, worm castings, you name it.....
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Re: OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby davefrombc » May 17, 2012 4:49 pm

Peat increases water holding capacity and helps breakup the soil. It is acidic, and really adds nothing as far as nutrients go until it finally rots, and then it is likely very minimal. Type of compost to add... Well, I would say mushroom manure is a good start .. It is actually a compost. Composted kitchen and garden waste is good .. Well rotted cow and horse manure is good.
Chicken and rabbit manure are the highest in nutrients. Do not use fresh chicken manure .. It is very high in nitrogen and can burn plants . Here is a list of the various manures and values stolen from another site .
Manure
N-P-K Chicken 1.1 .80 .50 Dairy cow .25 .15 .25 Horse .70 .30 .60 Steer .70 .30 .40 Rabbit 2.4 1.4 .60 Sheep .70.30 .90
Sources: Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, An Illustrated Guide to
Organic Gardening, by Sunset Publishing, and the Rodale Guide to Composting.
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Re: OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby Dumbo » May 17, 2012 7:59 pm

Yeah, I'm not going to touch anything right now. Too late in the season. Touch one, affect the other type thing. If anything, I'll do stuff in the fall or early spring. Could always touch up with something on the low end like those manures you mentioned.

So the CE (SSE) value (total salinity):

Anything over 2 isn't good.

Ranges are:
0-2 Good
2-4 slightly Moderate
4 to 8 Moderate
8 to 16+ highly saline

These ranges will depend on what you read and maybe the year of the material you read. I've seen some variations.

My value is in the range of slightly Moderate. Between 2 and 3.5.

Basically what this test represents is the total dissolved Calcium, Magnesium, Ammonium, sodium, etc. The whole gambit of salts that dissociate (or dissolve).

It doesn't pinpoint what exactly it is, or what it's from. Nor does it determine if it's something you should address right away (unless you do repetitive tests to check if it's constant and/or increasing).

I took my sample right after I tilled in my triple mix with the clay and mushroom compost. So this is the type of thing that could run-off and maybe lower with watering. Can't say. Would have to repeat the test after some watering.

Seems being above 2 is very bad for most gardens. That's basically what the literature had to say. But I have a hard time believing this with all the synthetic fertilizers out there that everyone's garden is below 2 since these fertilizers will raise this value. In addition to this, freshly added manure will also raise this value. Also, the soil I had trucked in... if it was from the middle or bottom of a pile, then it will be higher since the top of the pile will leech downward.

So there are too many factors here for this value to be of use as a one-shot deal type thing, in my belief. It better as a "monitoring" value over time and of course as you water it down.

So unless I get another analysis done in the fall or next year it's pretty useless as is.

So the recommendations I read is just to water it and it should lower, unless there is some type of sodium issue. In which case it should be treated with gypsum to displace the sodium.

Ref:
http://www.green-resource.com/wp-conten ... Report.pdf
http://www.extension.umn.edu/distributi ... esalts.pdf
http://www.al-labs-plains.com/soil.html
http://ag.udel.edu/extension/agnr/pdf/s ... P10-95.pdf

So the difference in my analysis versus OGrubbers analysis is that hers is more thorough. In hers they quantify the sodium concentration. In mine they just say something is high, but continue testing to find out and see if it drops, or remains, or increases. I got the quick and cheap test. I'll be sure to mention that to the guy when I see him and request another analysis to make-up for the cheapness. ;)

Well... I shouldn't say cheap. It's a lower cost test. For example, if Dave wanted to do yearly tests yet save some money he would go this route, and if this total salinty test proved to be ongoing or increasing, then switch to something to try and pinpoint it and be more thorough, which costs more like OGrubbers tests.

Anyhow, best stab at first grasp.
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Re: OGrubber (or anyone): soil analysis results - Help

Postby kelly_m » May 17, 2012 8:48 pm

I'm with Dave on this one....You've pretty much created a mountain out of a molehill.

It's topsoil...organic matter in it could be manure, compost or it could just bits of stick.

Most plants will grow in general everyday topsoil. amending with compost or fertilizer will of course help.

Knowing what plants grow in what conditions will help too...but I'm thinking you'll spend more time researching this than planting..... 8)

But then....there's always the old saying, with knowledge comes power.

Either way your weeds will be just like everyone elses.... :twisted:
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