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Help with interpreting first soil report / recommendations

Discussion in 'Organics' started by NewGrower2011, Jan 7, 2018.


    NewGrower2011 Well-Known Member

    So my soil reports came back and I'm starting to analyze them and try to digest/understand them. I already see a few things I think to worry about. One being the aluminum content - I used azomite and wonder if it was too heavy handed. I didn't know about the aluminum aspects in azomite until after the soil was mixed.

    Soil Report
    Total Exchange Capacity: 23.94
    ph of Sample: 6.6
    Organic Matter: 27.27%

    -- Anions --
    Sulphur: 328ppm
    Mehlich III Phosph: 1142 lbs/acre

    -- Exchangeable Cations --
    Calcium - Desired: 6510
    Calcium - Found: 5588
    Calcium - Deficit: -922
    Magnesium - Desired: 689
    Magnesium - Found: 1076
    Potassium - Desired: 746
    Potassium - Found: 1595
    Sodium - 391 lbs/acre

    -- Base Saturation % --
    Calcium (60 to 70%): 58.37
    Magnesium (10 to 20%): 18.73
    Potassium (2 to 5%): 8.54
    Sodium (.5 to 3%): 3.55
    Other Bases: 4.80
    Exchangeable Hydrogen (10 to 15%): 6

    -- Trace Elements --
    Boron: 0.88ppm
    Iron: 193ppm
    Manganese: 15ppm
    Copper: 1.28ppm
    Zinc: 10.95ppm
    Aluminum: 80ppm

    -- Other --
    Ammonium: 0.2ppm
    Nitrate: 379.1ppm
    Media Weight %: 23.7%

    Saturated Paste Report
    ph: 6.6
    Soluble Salts: 2185ppm
    Chloride (CI): 1040ppm
    Bicarbonate (HCO3): 107ppm

    -- Anions --
    Sulphur: 272.4ppm
    Phosphorus: 7.7ppm
    Calcium: 260.80ppm / 13.04 meq/l
    Magnesium: 106.70ppm / 8.89 meq/l
    Potassium: 289.80ppm / 7.53 meq/l
    Sodium: 107.70ppm / 4.68 meq/l

    -- Percent --
    Calcium: 38.19
    Magnesium: 26.04
    Potassium: 22.05
    Sodium: 13.72

    -- Trace Elements --
    Boron: 0.24ppm
    Iron: 0.63ppm
    Maganese: 0.07ppm
    Copper: 0.02ppm
    Zinc: 0.12ppm
    Aluminum: 1.34ppm
    MustangStudFarm likes this.

    NewGrower2011 Well-Known Member

    The soil was a mix/hodgepodge of what I had for re-use and then added more coco, some FFOF, new large chunky perlite. I had another thread where I listed out the original mix that I let sit for quite some time. I've also applied an AEM batch (probably a tad heavy - 2:1 water to aem). That has then had another week plus to sit and stew...

    Also - any recommendations on the various places that offer professional analysis - i.e. I think BuildASoil does this for a fee, etc. Who's the better vendor if I go that path? I know the lab had recommended vendors I think but I'd rather get this crowds opinions.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018

    NewGrower2011 Well-Known Member

    No one out there? ;-) Would really appreciate any input those in the know can share. After reviewing things I'm now hesitant to use this media for my upcoming run and would like to change course sooner than later if that's going to be the case.

    I'm thinking it's too hot on some fronts, and maybe even too light on others. I found kelp4less has a consulting option but damn it's pricey and looks like they include the costs of the soil test itself which I already have.

    NewGrower2011 Well-Known Member

    Finally getting time to come back to my soil test, and what seems to be missing for me is where can I find the ideal values/ranges where they don't otherwise specify. Without something to compare against for the 'ideal target' then I'm sort of playing a guessing game here. Probably going the BuildASoil route for an interpretation. Would be nice to see a compiled list of reports from others who've shared theirs for a cross comparison - esp from folks who know what they're doing and at least compare against what is believed to be a good target.

    If anyone can point me towards data that would give me a 'target' for these readings I'm all ears.

    MustangStudFarm Well-Known Member

    You are high in Potassium and that is a common problem! I continually have excess in K and P. The only thing that I know to do is cut it with ProMix. I have used Peatmoss but that will lower your Ph, Ca, and Mg. ProMix has been Ph adjusted already, so it would be a easy fix to use it to dilute your base mix... It is odd that your Exchangeable Hydrogen is low along with low Ca. Hydrogen is just a representative of acid content. Your a touch low on Calcium but with a Ph of 6.6 I would not dare use Oyster shell flour or any other Ph raising agent.

    Your Total Exchange Capacity is the same a CEC and it looks like you have clay heavy soil that needs aeration and I think that 10-15 CEC is what you should be shooting for.

    Dude, your soil does not look that bad and the only thing that sticks out is that K tox issue. Potassium will not leach out of your soil and it will stay there, so there is no chance of flushing or anything. I had to start watching my K input sources such as coco coir, molasses, manure, greensand, and kelp.

    Here is the place that I send my tests to. It's $25 for the basic soil test and the saturated paste test is not really that helpful.

    I have been through the hard knocks and it is probably best if you do your homework and start learning how to interpret these tests. It was a game changer after I started to familiar with what the results meant. I was getting my soil tested @Spectum analytic labs but they want $50 for the same test. However, their website is more helpful as far as information on reading the soil tests. https://www.spectrumanalytic.com/doc/library/articles/how_to_read_soil_report... The problem with a professional recommendation is that they are going to suggest inorganic material and it seems like it is all a Sulfate of some kind. Gypsum(calcium sulfate), Iron sulfate, copper sulfate, Mg sulfate etc... I ended up with a Ph that was way too low and a HUGE amount of Sulfur and Calcium in my mix, I had to dump it out... After doing my own research, I found the ingredients that I needed in organic form. I was low in trace minerals, so my options were rock dust and/or kelp. Since I was high in potassium, I decided to use kelp very sparingly and I only used it after my test confirmed that I did dilute my K tox soil enough that I had room for a minor dose of K. I'll see if I can find my test results...

    MustangStudFarm Well-Known Member

    This is from Logan Labs... This was my attempt at fixing my K tox soil and I came pretty close, the Ph was low and I think that was my biggest problem.

    ShLUbY Well-Known Member

    @MustangStudFarm interesting post dude. I'm curious, did you notice any physiological changes in your plants regarding the P and K excess???
    MustangStudFarm likes this.

    MustangStudFarm Well-Known Member

    I over corrected with oyster shell flour... I don't claim to be an expert, but a man on a mission lol. I didn't mix all of my soil together, so I am still able to mix my over corrected soil to the soil that is in that test. It looks like oyster shell flour, basalt, and glacial rock dust break down quicker than people let on. I should get my latest test results back on Tuesday and I expect it to be very close... Anyways, I am back to burning plants up. The soil that I had from the test that shown was not that bad. The plants that I top-dressed with oyster and rock dust is doing really well, it's the new plants that I was able to mix the OSF and rock dust that is doing horribly. Oh well, lesson learned.

    Damn, I just read your question again. K tox looks a LOT like Mg def because that is exactly what it is, K tox locks up Mg. Here is a link to one of that articles that I read. I remember the content but I don't remember reading this, it talks about toxicity and a lot about biochar.

    Here is a little of what it says about P...
    Phosphorus (P) Promotes root formation and growth; affects quality of seed, fruit and flower production; increased disease resistance; does not leach from soil readily; mobile in plant, moving to new growth Reduced growth; leaves dark green; purple or red color in older leaves, especially on the underside of the leaf along the veins; leaf shape may be distorted; thin stems; limited root growth Shows up as micronutrient deficiency of Zn, Fe, or Co Rapidly “fixed” on soil particles; when applied under acid conditions, fixed with Fe, Mn and Al; under alkaline conditions fixed with Ca; high P interferes with micronutrient and N absorption; used in relatively small amounts when compared to N and K; availability is lowest in cold soils.
    ShLUbY likes this.

    MustangStudFarm Well-Known Member

    If you read the article in the link that I listed, it has some great tables that answer your question. Click the "read more" button in the "Essential Nutrients Deficiency | Toxicity Symptoms" section, the first section...
    ShLUbY likes this.

    NewGrower2011 Well-Known Member

    That link to organicsoiltechnology has this comment about (k):

    Helps plants overcome drought stress; improves winter hardiness; increased disease resistance; improves the rigidity of stalks; leaches from soil; mobile in plant

    So they're saying it does leach from soil? So flushing won't help for the high potassium level issue?

    Alternate thinking - can I raise the other levels to bring it back into balance - yes, making this a 'hot mix' - but a balanced mix. Then I just know to combine it with something inert or very light in nutrients (sounds like I can't use more coco - so maybe light warrior/pro mix/etc).
    I did have many of those items mentioned in the original mix: kelp. greensand, plenty coco in the mix, some chicken compost manure. And for the clays, there was some old hydroton thrown in there and I've had this big ass bag of turface lying around so I put a decent amount in there since I had read about calcined clay use in mixes. It really is a witches brew with several things in it from what I had lying around and a few things purchased just for this batch (biochar). I put a modest amount (I thought) of large chunky perlite in there too. I was trying to not bulk up volume wise any more than necessary since I already had way more than I needed and that just means more storage space/containers.

    I'm surprised I hadn't overshot on Ca since I had crab meal, some gypsum, some lime (have to check which again). I was afraid I was overshooting it there.

    We'll see what BAS.com comes back with for their 'consult'...

    NewGrower2011 Well-Known Member

    How much would molasses contribute to this K problem?

    When I started soil cooking I did a (maybe half assed) aerated tea. Let it sit for a few months before use. Then got my soil test recently.

    Separate from that test, I've applied an AEM drench that I think was waaaay too strong. I only diluted 2:1 water to AEM. So that's more molasses in the soil potentially - above what the lab test would be showing.

    But on the up side, if all the K is from excessive molasses, it should rinse out; Which I have already tried a flush and ran enough water through that I wasn't seeing the brownish runoff like the first few gallons produced. So if all this K is from molasses maybe there's a chance I can flush enough to get it under control?

    ShLUbY Well-Known Member

    but remember when you flush, you're not just targeting the K, you're flushing anything that the soil cannot hold on to which will have to be replaced (not a huge deal, because you can always topdress nutrients and then mulch them).

    NewGrower2011 Well-Known Member

    true. Maybe the raise the other nutes to balance things out approach would be better. then use this with an inert filler otherwise to tone it down to suitable level.

    MustangStudFarm Well-Known Member

    Both phosphorus and potassium are immobile in the soil, meaning they don't move readily with water. Let's compare the mobility of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being immobile and 10 being readily mobile. Nitrate nitrogen (NO3-) is a 10. It is extremely mobile and can be lost to leaching, which is downward movement of water through the soil profile. Potassium is a 3. It has limited movement in the soil. Increasing soil moisture from 10 to 28 percent increases potassium transport by 175 percent. This movement of potassium is small and accounts for a small portion of the potassium absorbed by the plant. Phosphorus has a rating of 1. It is extremely immobile in the soil and is likely to stay wherever it is placed unless moved by erosion or crop export.

    ShLUbY likes this.

    MustangStudFarm Well-Known Member

    You took a tidbit of information and ran with it...

    Potash leaching
    Potassium does not leach anything like as readily from soils as does nitrate and sulphate. Potash additions not taken up by the crop will be held in the soil by the clay minerals or organic matter as described above. For the great majority of soils, which have a clay content of 5% or more, where normal rates of potash are applied, potassium not used by the crop will remain in the cultivated layer of soil and will not move further down the profile. However, significant losses of potassium can occur when any source of potash (fertiliser, slurry or manure) is applied under adverse conditions i.e. when soil is water-logged, frozen or very dry and deeply cracked. Most of this loss is by surface run-off and can be avoided by following codes of good agricultural practice. Soils with less than 5% clay (the sands and loamy sands) have a much lower retentive capacity for potassium. Such soils, especially if shallow and subjected to rainfall producing large amounts of through-drainage, have a greater risk of potassium loss. On these soils, potash should be applied ‘little and often’ and applications timed to suit crop uptake and amounts carefully matched to crop offtake.

    ShLUbY likes this.

    NewGrower2011 Well-Known Member

    Gotcha. So yeah, if the leaching approach doesn't have anything to offer, it sounds like building up the other nutes to a balanced level then toning things down overall by diluting with an inert is the best path. that way I'm not just leaching away the mobile nutrients leaving things further out of balance.
    ShLUbY likes this.

    Wetdog Well-Known Member

    It's not the molasses, nor the kelp.

    You seem to want to look everywhere but at the elephant in the middle of the room leaching K and sodium into your soil.

    Do a google search on *coco coir and K toxicity* and do some research on the root cause of your K tox, the continued use of coco.

    Just saying.
    MustangStudFarm and ShLUbY like this.

    NewGrower2011 Well-Known Member

    Yeah I suspected the coco was a big part of the culprit. And to rub salt in the wound, I added more towards the end because I thought it would help the overall consistency of the media and help with some water retention; As it was all spread on a tarp after mixing and left to sit, it seemed to dry very quickly (well yeah - big open/exposed pile in a garage with low humidity so of course). So I had a large block of coco I expanded and mixed in. Doh!

    Wetdog Well-Known Member

    Just how much of this toxic mix do you have? I mean, you could try and fix it, or, just call it a wash and go with a fresh peat based mix and avoid the drama.

    MustangStudFarm Well-Known Member

    Be careful of your Sulfur and Phosphorus inputs also. Sulfur needs to be between 20-40 ppm and P should be at 275 P2O5 lb/acre on the Mehlich 3 test... I don't think that the sulfur is hurting as much as the P and K excess though.

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