soil test results- some questions

imtoobusy(z6b)March 20, 2005

Hello, I posted this on the soil forum but no one has really come up with an answer for me. I did tests on my market garden beds (I am a very small operation, hoping to get bigger, and am using wide beds. Last year I tested for pH (it was between 5-5.5) and then ammended with a lot of mushroom compost. Turns out that the compost has raised the pH to 7.1- 7.3. I did add a little bit of lime last year but not THAT much. I have some potatoes coming from Johnny's and with my new pH I am not sure what will happen. I may have to dig new beds for them.

The rest of the numbers I am not sure what they mean. I don't know how many of you do soil tests but I was wondering if I could get your assessment of my results. This is just one of the tests but they are all showing about the same thing (one bed did have a K of 1049) Thanks

Organic matter 6.6

Estimated Nitrogen Release 140 VH

p1 phos weak bray 201 VH

p2 phos strong bray 236 VH

Potassium 436 VH

Mag 317 VH

cal 2650 H

pH 7.3

Cation Exchange capacity 17.0

% K 6.6

% mg 15.5

% ca 77.9

sulfur 70 VH

zinc 21.5 VH

manganese 81 VH

iron 20 H

copper .9 M

boron 1.4 H

What does this mean to you?

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mark_brown(7 NC)

who did the test? Usually there are some info on what the results mean, perhaps you are missing that info.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 5:47PM
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A lab out of Richmond VA did them. They are supposed to be sending me more information through the mail in a couple of days. The last time "more information" was only application rates to increase different compounds. Then again, I have only ever had pastures tested before so maybe the lab will give better recommendations since they know this is for a market garden.

I guess I want some down and dirty information on what this is all about. Maybe a book or something?? We are trying to grow everything by organic standards- thinking of getting cerified "naturally grown"- and understanding the soil is key, me thinks. If I was 20 I could go to college and take sustainable ag courses or become an intern or apprentice but that kind of learning can't take place when you are in your 30s and raising young children. I am now at the point where all of my learning comes from books and message boards!!!

Sorry for babbling on, just have a lot going through my head!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 8:45PM
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mark_brown(7 NC)

try google, i got a ton of results, put into google just one of your soil test results, see if the company that did the testing has a web site, a lot of ag colleges do soil testing and have a lot of info

    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 5:04AM
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I would try your Land Grant College- I don't know what that would be in Virginia, but in NY it is Cornell. Also, your local cooperative extension should be able to help you interpret results. As for a book, Building Better Soils by Fred Magdoff and Harold van Es is a good one and has a discusion on interpreting soil tests. Good luck on your endeavors.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 6:33AM
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I got all of the hard copies in the mail today- still had trouble deciphering the information so I gave them a call. The man was very nice and basically told me that, although the computer said I should add ammonium sulfate, I really shouldn't add anything--at all--this year. He doesn't even think I should add sulfur to lower the pH since even my sulfur levels are high. Just goes to show- you really CAN have too much of a good thing.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 6:31PM
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stan_gardener(cen ca)

if your interested in using organic type techniques i think
ammonium sulphate is a no no. stay away from advice that
comes in a bag. start working with browns and greens and
cover crops. natural soil develop is done over time. if you
just applied mushroom compost (straw,manure,possibly chem-
ical amendments)plant the potatoes,mulch then mulch again
and enjoy!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 2:06AM
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