Epsom Salt

comkow(z6 ny)January 24, 2007

It's tough to be thinking about lawns when it is going to be in the single digits on Friday as a high for the day, but I was throwing some epsom salt into a bath yesterday and on the back it had directions for lawn application.

Has anyone used Epsom Salt on their lawn before and what type of results did you get?

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bpgreen(5UT)

I've used them, but I didn't see much benefit from them. It's unlikely that your soil would need what Espom salt would provide, since you're in teh east.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 12:57AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Are Epsom salts are on the list for organic application? Regardless, to me magnesium sulfate is an artificial salt. If a soil test shows your alkali metals (calcium, magnesium, and potassium) are out of balance, and you are not afraid the sulfate is going to kill 100% of your beneficial soil fungi, then you might consider using it in a non-organic program. If someone was holding a gun to my head and I had a choice between Epsom salt and magnesium chloride (a common deicer on roadways), I'd go with the latter. But I have to believe there are true organic alternatives to replenish magnesium.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 12:16AM
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ntbio

Epson salt is on the allowed list of inputs. You can also check OMRI for brands. There is very good evidence that epsom salt allows for better sulfide production in vegtable allowing for better end product. Sulfer is needed for protein synthesis. This synthesis makes for better taste as well. These salts are common in europe but not in the US (thing of sulfer springs throughout central EU). Careful tto use the recommended amount as the magnesium will cause some other diffeciences as well as cause cellualr problems in the plant. The epsom salt has no effect on beneficial fungi in the soil...

    Bookmark   February 3, 2007 at 2:58PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I'm far from an expert on biophysiology, but here's a few things I think I've found out about sulfur and sulfates in the soil. A little over 2 years ago I asked Dr Elaine Ingham the following question, "What is the effect of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), used to adjust the salt balance in their soil or simply to add magnesium, on the beneficial microbes in the soil or compost tea?" She answered as follows:

Concentration is the major factor here. Small amounts [of magnesium sulfate] are fungistatic (meaning they inhibit growth of fungi), and with time, fungi recover. Higher amounts clearly kill beneficial fungi. Testing has been limited [in determining] the precise threshold of negative impact.

She went on to itemize many different common sulfur materials and conclude by saying, So, my generalization is that sulfur in any form, above a concentration of just a few pounds per acre, is probably fungicidal.

So when you say, The epsom salt has no effect on beneficial fungi in the soil...

I don't mean to sound argumentative but how do you know this? You seem so sure.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 9:52PM
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ntbio

Her comment has no relevance...and making a sweeping statement that sulfur in any form abouve a threshold she names is propbably fungicidal is suspect if you try to make it relevant here.

Everyone knows not to use too much of anything. But, she gives no amounts/concentrations etc...

I checked a reputable organic lawn fertilzer and theirs contains about 1.5% of net weight of sulphur...and they recommend 4 x 10# / 1000 sq. ft per year or loosely .5#/1000 x 45 = 17.5 pounds of sulphur per acre.It is alfalfa based with humic mined added.

But to clarify, a reasonable addition of epsom salts to your soil will make P & N more available without any real effect to the mycohhizal population. Further, if you are producing a fruit, the effect is to increase the "desire" to choose those fruits grown with the addition of epsom salts. There are several university studies in EU to this effect. Also, to increase yields and quality in fruits...

Futher, unless you are using an organic fertilizer with some humic product in it you probably need some Mg anyway

But, again I say that the use of epsom salt in (a reasonable amount) to raise the availability of P & K in the lawn poses no measureable or noteable harm to fungi (endomycorhhizal).

AND, if you are using so much to be worrued about killing fungi then your grass will be dead too!

However, I will say that it is important to know what your target crop is and what it likes...try to plant species of plants that prefer the environment you create...bermuda grass does not like the shade or yankees!

Incidently, TruGreen Chemlawn is now reccommending humic soiladditives to there offering as secondary nutrients are leached by their servcies...

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 11:21PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

ntbio said: Her comment has no relevance...

Why not? In her profession she tests microbes sensitivity to many different compounds. Sulfur and sulfates are sort of a specialty because they are commonly used as antifungal agents.

and making a sweeping statement that sulfur in any form abouve a threshold she names is propbably fungicidal is suspect if you try to make it relevant here.

Why is it not suspect for you to make a relatively vague and unsupported statement, but it is suspect for an expert (Dr Ingham, not me) to make a relevant comment? I think the relevant statements are starting to sort themselves out in front of us.

Everyone knows not to use too much of anything. But, she gives no amounts/concentrations etc...

I reported that she specified "a few pounds per acre." If she meant 2 pounds per acre, that translates to 0.75 ounces of sulfur per 1,000 square feet.

But to clarify, a reasonable addition of epsom salts to your soil will make P & N more available without any real effect to the mycohhizal population.

How do you know the Epsom salts don't have any effect on the beneficials? I asked this before but you just repeated the assertion.

The reason I asked her the question was that she posted a message to her compost tea forum saying not to use sodium thiosulfate (a very common aquarium dechlorinator) to dechlorinate tap water for compost tea, because her tests revealed that using 1/2 the recommended dosage of sodium thiosulfate for dechlorination would kill all the beneficial fungi. She indicated it was common for sulfates to kill beneficial fungi. I asked the question specifically about Epsom salts and more generally about other sulfates, because I know they in common garden use in home and commercial application.

Of course you are free to ignore what I said as you can ignore what anyone says here. I thought you had some information to show that Epsom salt would not harm beneficial fungi.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 1:01AM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

Below is what Dr. Ingham has posted on her website regarding epsom salts.

-Deerslayer

"Epsom salts: A salt form of magnesium and sulfate. Often used to leach calcium out of soil and increase magnesium levels. Except there is no way to leach just one compound without also leaching many other nutrients. In addition, the sulfate has quite negative impacts on microorganisms, especially soil fungi. Dont be mislead by plate count studies showing no impact on soil fungi in plate methods are incapable of growing 99.9% or more of the fungi actually in soil, as especially miss the beneficial species. The better choice is a chelated calcium, or kelp."

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 1:36AM
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ntbio

Firstly, epsom salt is NOP compliant. Second, Ingham herself recommends as much as 2# per acre of sulfur addition using humate on her product page (she sells this at a bizarre cost I see!). Assuming there IS some sulfer in the soil already...that is more than 2#/acre. If you use a 2# bag of Agrimycin (Organic fungicide) there is more...I'm telling you that there is plenty of sulfur in the soil...and there better be if you want fertile soil. Sulfer concentration in corn, by weight, is about .2%...doing the math... there is ~20 pounds of sulfer in an acre of the harvested corn...
I'm just saying, adding some (reasonalble) epsom salt to add mg will not effect bene fungi in the soil...and making the statement that more than 2# of sulfer in any form in the soil is fungicidal.... (this is my professional coutesy here) must have been taken out of context and has no relevence here.
Deerslayer, chelated calcium & kelp can be purchased on her page too...
Think independent studies from universities guys...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 12:44AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

ntbio, can you please guide me to the page where Dr Elaine Ingham sells sulfur? I can't find it on her products page.

And do you have links to some independent studies to show that sulfur does not harm microbes? Seems I asked this in a different way a couple times before.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 6:37PM
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ntbio

dshall,
1st:
Ingham sells humate.
Humate contains sulfur.
Ingham recommends up to ~100 pounds per acre of humate.
Sulfur in this recommendation by weight is 2#.

2nd:
1 acre of corn containes ~20# of sulfur.
Sulfur, in any form, must be available to the plant.

3rd:
magnesium sulfate is a natural occuring compound in the soil.

4th:
google: sulfur deficiency in soil

However, your garden is your business. And, if you continue to add non NOP compliant products and mis apply information you do no service to the promotion of organic lawn care.

Your creation of your own personal interpretation of NOP to suit yourself only misinforms.

Further, you have no place on an organic lawn forum whereby you recommend non organic products. It is your /Ingham blanket statements / misinformation / bad math kind of information that gives organic programs a bad reputation....legitimate compost tea producers also suffer at irresponsible talk like yours.

You have every right to produce your version of "organic" (there is a definition of organic by NOP standards you know)compost tea ans use non organic products because in your estimation they are organic. But in every case you are fraudulent.

Sulfer defiency is a serious issue and one the organic industry is aware of...it effects many functions in a plant...

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 10:55AM
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terryb

ntbio, I second everything you posted here these guys don't know anything but to post about what someone else has posted. I might not be the smartess cookie in the pack but they are just a bunch of poser wannabees!!! I know results when I see them first hand and I also know a poser.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 12:17PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Ntbio said, Ingham herself recommends as much as 2# per acre of sulfur addition using humate on her product page (she sells this at a bizarre cost I see!), and Ingham sells humate.

Can you please provide a link? Seriously, I can't find it.

Humate contains sulfur. and 1 acre of corn containes ~20# of sulfur.
I have no problem with natural forms of sulfur. As you said, everything needs sulfur to live. When the formerly living things die and decompose, their sulfur is recycled naturally. That's a good thing in my book.

magnesium sulfate is a natural occuring compound in the soil.
I can't find anything on this. I would be surprised if it were true, because salt ions usually dissolve in water leaving no sign of the original compound. Sometimes they form crystals, but not normally in regular soil.

google: sulfur deficiency in soil
I did. Here are the four hits I got. I'm not sure what your point was since they are not talking about magnesium sulfate.

However, your garden is your business. And, if you continue to add non NOP compliant products and mis apply information you do no service to the promotion of organic lawn care.
This is really getting weird. Where did I add non NOP products? Paragraph 205.605 allows magnesium chloride. I just mentioned it as a preferred way to get magnesium. Can you help me understand what I said to mis apply information? Secondly, there is no such thing as a certified organic lawn. Organic certification only applies to crops or livestock for sale. Organic lawn care is only a hobby. You can interpret it your way and I'll interpret mine my way. Along the way I reply to messages where I think I can shed some light.

Your creation of your own personal interpretation of NOP to suit yourself only misinforms.
The information I have is backed up by some research and some practical experience. I've tried to find information to back up your statements and I cannot. I asked you for help to back up your statements but you seem to be resisting. Most importantly to this thread, I'm still wondering if there is any evidence to show sulfur and/or sulfates are not harmful to microbes. The fact that sulfur is used as a fungicide should be enough said on that subject.

Further, you have no place on an organic lawn forum whereby you recommend non organic products. It is your /Ingham blanket statements / misinformation / bad math kind of information that gives organic programs a bad reputation....legitimate compost tea producers also suffer at irresponsible talk like yours.
Is anything in this sentence true about me? I'm not thrilled about recommending magnesium chloride but it is on the NOP list of approved synthetics. Misinformation? I'm the one posting back-up sources for my information. Bad math? Please correct any math errors. Bad rep for organic programs? I like to think I'm responsible in part for a growing interest in organic lawn care. Several years ago I wrote a FAQ for a simplified, inexpensive, fully organic lawn care program. That FAQ has been downloaded at least 20,000 times from three organic lawn forums, two of which I moderated. It's not exactly a million seller, but it's a start. Compost tea producers? They're the ones I get my compost tea info from. I know several commercial producers and have visited their facilities. One of my CT information sources makes 73,000 gallons per year. She's a student of Dr Ingham and is fully onboard with these comments.

You have every right to produce your version of "organic" (there is a definition of organic by NOP standards you know)compost tea ans use non organic products because in your estimation they are organic. But in every case you are fraudulent.
Puh-leeze!

Sulfer defiency is a serious issue and one the organic industry is aware of...it effects many functions in a plant...
I'm just asking you to back up your statements. I can't find the evidence to support you. I agree sulfur affects growth and plant development, but I don't agree it is a good idea to apply chemical sources of it. You've mentioned two natural sources. That's good enough for me.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 1:33AM
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bpgreen(5UT)

Let me see if I understand this. I think there's very little disagreement, but I may be missing something.

Epsom salts are on the NOP list.
Sulfur is needed by plants.
Some forms of sulfur are fungicides.

The next part will seem a bit less neutral. I posted something based on my experience, and clearly stated that it was based on my experience.

Others have posted claims that refer to websites and papers, etc, but of those, only one person has posted links. If he's wrong, those who disagree and claim that there are websites supporting their positions should provide links to those websites, instead of engaging in ad hominem attacks.

I don't always agree with everything David says, but at least he provides links supporting his position, and he his positions and attacks opposing positions, rather than the people who hold those positions. I also haven't seen him accuse anybody of making statements that they didn't make (unfortunately, this isn't true for all the posters here).

I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that we should be able to keep the discussion here civil and on topic.

If I'm off base, I'm sure I'll be set straight.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 4:29AM
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turf_toes(SE Pennsylvania KBG)

Organic lawn care is only a hobby. You can interpret it your way and I'll interpret mine my way. Along the way I reply to messages where I think I can shed some light.

I think David has hit the nail on the head here.

The fact is, it is nearly impossible to have a truly organic lawn by the 'certified' standards. Unless of course you grow your own corn, alfalfa, etc and can certify that the grains you are using are actually grown organically.

Really now, for most folks here, we're just trying to find ways to have nice lawns without poisoning our kids, pets or just the environment in general.

I don't understand the need to call David or anyone else here names just because someone might disagree with them. I don't agree with everything David writes, but he is generally well-informed and of course he is helping folks.

I don't see how it is helpful to denigrate anyone because they haven't met some impossible to meet organic standard. I can enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy, but calling anyone fraudulent because you disagree with them is just boorish behavior.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 10:38AM
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ntbio

all..to report that more than 2#/acre of sulfur "in any form" in the soil is fungicidal is nonsense. To report that you (dschall) only found 4 links to "sulfur deficiency" is, well, an example of poor spelling. And, if you cannot see where Ingham promotes/sells humate (which contains 2# of sulfer at the application rate she suggests) is no surprise based upon your search engine example...

If you call this "well informed information" (of dchall's)...well, then, so be it...

However, as the question was about epsom salts I suggested that the addition of epsom salts is beneficial with NO ill effects on the soil fungi population as it is well known that normal sulfer concentrations in the soil are 10x the 2#/acre that is fungicidal. And, if you suggest to anyone that having more than 2#/acre of sulfer in any form is fungicidal is simply, wrong. I suggested that Ingham had no intention of suggesting what you interpreted...

The only light you shine on the effect of the epsom salt in organic lawn care is dim and fleeting.

Don't tell folks a bunch of junk that you gleaned from a passing conversation you may have had and have (obviously) no knowledge. My only intention is to correct your misinformation regarding sulfur levels in the soil.

Organic lawn care can be achieved when your normal levels of sulfur are ~25#/acre. Low sulfur concentration have varied, and widely published ill effects on nutrient uptake and quality of the target crop...whether it is fescue for forage or for beauty.

Organic lawn care ALWAYS starts with a soil test whereby you correct the pH and nutrient levels in the soil using NOP compliant products. If your soil test determines 2#/acre concentration of sulfur in your yard then you lower the home values of your neighborhood if you don't correct it.

Incidently, organic lawn care as a hobby has made millionaires of some people in Canada and now the US whereby they use NOP compliant products to great success of homeowners in a variety of areas including safety and beauty.

So, I stand corrected if sulfer in any form in concentrations greater than 2#/acre is fungicidal and there is only 4 links to googling sulfur deficiency and the addition of epsom salts in reasonable amounts is not beneficial to raising the availability of other nutrients while adding needed S and Mg.

It is getting dark in here...

Here is a link that might be useful: sulfur deficiency

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 7:19PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

ntbios has had plenty of opportunity to cooperate. My point is made. He can now offer his parting words.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 1:46AM
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iriscutforth_yahoo_ca

Last year I mixed epsom salt, molasses, beer, tad of liquid soap, and green slimy rain water. I didn't notice that much difference that year. But, this year, the width of the grass where it was applied liberally was amazing. The difference between less than an eighth of an inch to almost an 1/2 inch to an inch. It is coming in thicker. It is coming in greener. It is outgrowing the neighbours quite noticeably but I am letting it grow at least minimum of three inches. I cut it at four to five inches.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 1:10PM
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