Soil Mixes W/soil Tests And Soil Science Discussion Thread

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ABENAKI

ABENAKI

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Okay dokie!
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Newenglander

Newenglander

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Effect of Soil Ca:Mg Ratio on Crop Yield

Growth of the theory.

Beginning in the 1890's, it was suggested that a specific ratio of soil Calcium (Ca) to Magnesium (Mg) might be beneficial to plant growth and/or crop quality and production. This supposition seems most reasonable. After all, if plants internally maintain an approximate ratio between these two elements, it might be easier for the plant to thrive if the soil presented these elements in a ratio that would approximate the plant Ca:Mg ratio. Given this condition, it would seem equally reasonable that the lessor amount of energy that the plant utilized to control the proportion of Calcium and Magnesium could be utilized to improve plant growth and/or crop quality and production.
The theory that there was an ideal soil Calcium to Magnesium ratio was advocated by Albrecht et al. and Bear et al. in the late 1930s and '40s. They suggested that a ratio of 65:10, Calcium:Magnesium was optimal in the soils studied in Missouri and New Jersey. Additionally, Albrecht utilized some unique alternate techniques to evaluate the effects of added Calcium on plant quality. This included feeding lespedeza hay, grown in fields with varying amounts of lime, to rabbits. After six weeks, the rabbits were sacrificed and the characteristics of their femur bones evaluated. The bones were heavier, longer, and wider than in control animals. Interesting; but a significant stretch to equate the effects seen with adding lime to a field. Other more conventional approaches indicate that increasing soil Ca resulted in increasing nodulization in alfalfa. While this study has been criticized for lack of pH control, it's face value supported the reasonably accepted concept about the Ca:Mg ratio.

Does current data support the theory?
Given the common sense approach that this theory "seems reasonable", many others have set out to establish the optimal Ca:Mg ratio. These studies were under taken, not questioning the theory's validity, but simply to optimize growing conditions. However, in test after test, there is no observable effects on crop yield when the Ca:Mg ratio was modified, over very wide ranges.

A recent study by Schonbeck (Report to Organic Farming Research Foundation, 2000), had the goal "to validate the Albrecht formula in organic production". Five sites were utilized in the South Eastern U.S. for evaluating, among other things, marketable yield. He found no difference in marketable yields in low and high Calcium (utilized to modify the Ca:Mg ratio) treatments. These results led Schonbeck to conclude: "Findings to date have led to a shift in focus toward developing a holistic, site-specific and resource-conserving approach to soil nutrient balance."

In another group of experiments, McLean et al. (Soil Sci.Soc 36: 927 [1972]; Agro.J 75: 625 [1983]) also set out to establish the optimal Ca:Mg ratio. Having been Albrecht's student, this approach would be reasonable. His extensive study included corn, soybean, wheat and alfalfa; each grown in soils with varying Ca:Mg ratios. The Ca:Mg ratios ranged from about 2.5 to slightly more than 25. His conclusion was: "for maximum crop yield, emphasis should be placed on providing sufficient, but not excessive levels of each basic cation rather than attempting to attain a favorable basic cation saturation ratio which evidently does not exist."

Other studies indicate the lack of effects of changing Ca:Mg ratios on alfalfa yield (Hunter, 67: 53[1949]; McLean & Carbonell, Soil Sci.Proc 36: 927 [1972]). Likewise, Rehm (Univ. Extension DC6437 [1994]) at the University of Minnesota demonstrated with alfalfa and corn that modification of the CA:Mg ratio had no effect on yield as long as there was adequate amounts of nutrients in the soil. Liebhardt, at the University of California-Davis and involved with these studies in several locations, provided the following synopsis of his work (sare.org /sanet_mg/archives [1998]). He summarized an eleven year study on corn an soybeans which indicated that "you do not need specific ratios of Ca:Mg to maximize yield."

Many other short reports of field trials indicate the apparent lack of response to modification of the Ca:Mg ratio exist in extension service reports. Though significant effort was made; no scientifically designed, statistically validated data purporting increased yields due to modification of the Ca:Mg ratio was found. Such data would be welcomed if available.

Are there other considerations ?

When modifying the Ca:Mg ratio utilizing lime applications, effects on the soil pH must be evaluated. Agricultural lime (Calcium Carbonate) has a pH of 8.5 and it is typically applied to soil to elevate the soil pH. However, much of the soil in the Western States have adequately high pH values and adding lime to modify the Ca:Mg ratio may elevate the soil pH to levels that are not optimal for the specific crop being grown. Additionally, as the pH increases above 7 nutrients including, phosphate, iron, manganese and zinc are altered in the soil and become less available for plant uptake and potentially decrease yield.

If the theory is acceptable, what would be required to make soil modifications and is there an reasonable return on investment?
The proposed ratio of 65:10 (Ca:Mg) is significantly different than what exists in the Western States served by Sunland Analytical. Upon review of recent soil samples analyzed by Sunland, which included samples from California, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon, the average Ca:Mg ratio for 25,000 samples was 3.35 or 33.5:10. Of course the analytical values, from samples taken in four states, varied significantly; but the average Calcium and Magnesium values were 2085 ppm and 622 ppm, respectively. The calculations for the amount of amendments that would be necessary to modify the top 6 inches of soil to a Ca:Mg ratio of 65:10 provides a value in excess of 6 tons lime per acre or 9 tons of gypsum per acre. Further, to maintain this ratio, there would be significant annual applications required to maintain the Calcium as the constituents in the top 6 inches of soil equilibrates with the underlying soil. If there were a reasonable guarantee of increased yield, a justification for this expense and effort could be made.

The "bottom line" is the grower's bottom line. These studies suggest that recommendations for soil amendment and fertilization fit the requirements of the crop and the historic yield capacity of the field. Search for significant improvements in yield are certainly a goal of all in our industry, but even though attractive conceptually, the "ideal" Calcium to Magnesium ratio doesn't appear to exist and such modification attempts don't appear to increase yields.
 
Newenglander

Newenglander

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Right......well this thread was a swing and a miss. I guess this board is more of a if I can't buy it bagged then fuck it crowd, lame.
 
basseye

basseye

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Soil Mixes w/ Soil analysis Only.
i think that first post limits alot of members from posting lol.im building my own soil now but no analysis so i didnt bother posting anything.need to give it time,stuff gets buried at this site fast with all the jibberjabber threads.but i did appreciate your second post alot so thanks.
 
Bulldog11

Bulldog11

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Right......well this thread was a swing and a miss. I guess this board is more of a if I can't buy it bagged then fuck it crowd, lame.

Like I said in the other thread, I am not really sharing right now till the site cleans up the trolls following me around. If and when that day comes, I will be back to posting information that others can benefit from. I have around 10 soil tests with recommendations when the day comes.
 
Newenglander

Newenglander

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Your wrong many soil builders here

Yep.

Base used happy frog
Ewc
Kelp meal
Alfalfa meal
Guano. High N and P,depending on
Azomite
Greensand
Lime
Gypsum
Soft rock phosphate
Epson salt
Caps nute pack
Hydrotron
Also throwing around a chicken shit recipe

Haha I know and I'd like their input, brother.

Like I said in the other thread, I am not really sharing right now till the site cleans up the trolls following me around. If and when that day comes, I will be back to posting information that others can benefit from. I have around 10 soil tests with recommendations when the day comes.

I dig ya, man. Post when the fog clears at least there is a place to do it.
 
Seamaiden

Seamaiden

Living dead girl
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Redoing it..............lost my shit dont ya know! I digress i have a brain injury. My apologies.
No worries, I didn't know you were TBI but now that I do, I'll keep on giving gentle reminders. :) I know a lot of folks with TBI, I know how hard it can be just to keep your shit together.
Like I said in the other thread, I am not really sharing right now till the site cleans up the trolls following me around. If and when that day comes, I will be back to posting information that others can benefit from. I have around 10 soil tests with recommendations when the day comes.
Put them on ignore. Done.
 
MrRojos

MrRojos

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@Bulldog11 so true..I'd post my tried an true recipe but would get ugly responses from people who have never used anything but advanced nutrients and or happy frog lol.
Sad when a site with so much potential for betterment through knowledge turns into a high school locker room where the cool kids are bullies and harrass everyone.we all know that the cool kids mostly are nowadays deep fried chicken engineers/burger surgeons.lol
 
Bulldog11

Bulldog11

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@Bulldog11 so true..I'd post my tried an true recipe but would get ugly responses from people who have never used anything but advanced nutrients and or happy frog lol.
Sad when a site with so much potential for betterment through knowledge turns into a high school locker room where the cool kids are bullies and harrass everyone.we all know that the cool kids mostly are nowadays deep fried chicken engineers/burger surgeons.lol

I was a "cool" kid in school. Jock, popular, ext ext. Went to collage on a partial sport scholarship, yet needed money and dropped out. Started in construction and made a killing. My friends all went to college, (the cool kids) but now they all complain of student debt, and all have made WAY LESS money than I have with their fancy college degrees.

So in short, I agree with you. Even the "cool" kids with degrees are a joke.

My friend went to UCLA and earned a Bio-Chemical-Engineering degree. Couldn't find a job when he came out, so he entered the construction field. Got an opportunity to work for a bank around 2008, then the banks crashed...... Smartest guy I knew, and he failed in several industries so far.

College has become a waste of time, space and money for most careers. If you want to be a doctor, yea, you better have a good degree. Poly Science degree......worthless.
 
Seamaiden

Seamaiden

Living dead girl
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638
Is this thread going to be turned into a waste of time by posts like that now? Honestly, if you're not going to ask a question or honestly and earnestly contribute, then why post to the thread?
 
Bulldog11

Bulldog11

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263
Well, this thread has been a casualty of the mods not being able to clean up threads, and allowing trolls to rule the boards. No idea which mod is responsible, and I seriously doubt it you seamaiden.

This is why I have decided to hold back any and all posts that has anything related to me personally, such as soil tests, pictures, ext. Trolls have been photo shopping those pictures, and even the mods have piled on.

Sucks, cause this thread really could elevate many soil growers to the next level, but I vote to close the thread down. Not one soil test, not one discussion about soil......... Seems nobody but me would be willing to pick up this torch, but not while the trolls rule the boards.

Another thread bites the dust.
 
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