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Soil Testing

rowsSoil testing is a powerful tool for accomplishing proper mineral balance in soil, but not all soil testing is the same. Our Fertility Management Services use private labs that look beyond conventional approachs to soil health, and our soil testing is based on the pioneering work on base saturation of Dr. William Albrecht.


Then we take soil testing a step further. Not only do our Fertility Management Services provide complete data for essential nutrition in soil, but we write custom recommendations that provides specific instructions for bringing mineral balance to soil.  


Many forms of conventional soil testing, such as achieved through Extension Services, only looks for a limited number of elements in the soil. Simply put, if we don’t look for all essential elements and evaluate what is deficient, how are we supposed to know what to be adding?


Many sources of soil testing also have a misguided focus on soil pH. The assumption of a pH driven soil test is that every soil is the same, and that if the pH is correct, then everything is right with the world. But it’s not that simple. It is also not complicated once the basics are understood. 


For example, you may be familiar with the method of using lime to raise the pH in acidic soil. Lime is made of calcium (and sometimes magnesium), and nothing else. So you can add lime per area and make the pH number correct, but what happens if you have a potassium or iron deficiency?


Bottom line, using lime does not address broad-spectrum deficiencies; it merely moves the pH number on a sheet of paper. The same is true of nitrogen-based lawn foods. They may green up the lawn, but they are stimulating growth at thee xpense of the root system and actually creating weeds, pests, and disease. The same is true for people when we eat fast food for every meal. 


Combining this logic with the power of diverse soil microbes from our compost tea recipe creates a healthy opportunity for growth and regeneration. Our approch is to grow the soil, not just the plants. This results in multiple benefits for the lawn, garden, or farm such as saving water, reducing fertilizer, fighting pests & disease, mititgating weeds, and more. 


Below is an example of a common soil test in Southeastern NC. Note that the pH of this sample is lower than desired, but the Ca+ levels are close to acceptable. A recommendation from conventional sources of soil testing here would likely be lime to increase the pH to 6.0-6.5. But we already have just enough Ca+, and if the only thing added is lime it may correct the pH number, but it would not address the Mg+, K+, Na+, S-, P-, B-, Fe+, Mn+, Cu+, and Zn+ deficiencies.


Our Fertility Management Services would account for these deficiencies by delivering a specific amount of minerals like gypsum, manganese sulfate, iron sulfate, KMag, lime, CalPhos, and others based on the deficiencies found in the soil sample submitted. Truly customized results tailored specifically for your soil.



Soil Data 


Soil HorizonWhy is there no nitrogen on our soil testing data? 


Each percent of organic matter in the top 6 inches of a medium textured soil releases about 10-20 pounds of nitrogen, 1 to 2 pounds of phosphorus, and 0.4 to 0.8 pounds of sulfur per acre per year. The ability of soil microbes to create humus also accounts for the logic of using cover crops in farming, or mulch mowing in turf applications. Mulch mowing your lawn is the equivalent of four nitrogen fertilizations per year in healthy soil.


Plus, almost 80% of air is nitrogen. A biologically healthy soil contains many different forms of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that retain nitrogen in the soil from the air for free.


Much of modern agriculture is based off of artificial nitrogen fertilization, which is no more than a crutch that creates the equivalent of obesity in plants. This being said, fertilization is not evil, it is necessary when soil cannot support plant growth on its own in order to generate the expected results of yield and green up. You should expect to reduce the requirement of fertilization significantly over time using our protocols.


With this in mind it is important to make sure the fertilizers being used are organic. Artificial materials do not feed the soil; they feed the plant at the expense of the soil. When you boil down organic growing to its essence, the objective is to feed microbes, just remember that the microbes have to be there to begin with. Herein is the power and relevance of our compost tea recipe. To achieve dynamic results we must feed the soil, not the plant.


The lack of addressing elemental deficiency and ensuring proper diversity of soil microbes is why weeds grow, disease develops, pests thrive, and plants struggle. Using artificial fertilizers and toxic rescue chemistry is not unlike relying on pharmaceuticals for health. Rather than taking a pill to eat more fast food, we are changing our diet and taking probiotics.


Here are some thoughts to ponder regarding weeds, pests, and disease.


Weeds grow aggressively to complete their life cycle in one season as annual plants in order to account for mineral deficiencies in the soil, which is why many are sold as medicinal herbs for people. On open soil weeds can be a challenge, but in lawns make the connection that grass is a perennial plant. In reality, weeds want the grass to grow, they are not coming from the neighbor’s yard, they lay dormant for up to 50 years as a mechanism for soil to mature and balance itself so the perennial plants can take over through succession.


Plant disease is an organism eating your plant that has nothing to eat it, and also a result of weak plants. What happens to people that eat fast food for every meal? We get sick. Using toxic biocides to kill disease organisms is a vicious cycle that kills beneficial organisms as well and makes the problem worse in the long run. Using soil microbes through diverse compost teas is a much more effective means of eliminating disease than trying to kill the problem with chemicals.


And pests are actually attracted to unhealthy plants. Pests feed off of the broken proteins generated by artificial nitrogen-based fertilizers, so are mitigated by allowing the plant an opportunity to eat complete nutrition and, further, are dealt with directly by beneficial soil microbes found in our biologically diverse compost tea.


Contact us today to get started, and please let us know how we can be of service.