Help soil analysis???

AggranduserSeptember 8, 2013

Hello, I'm new to the organic lawn care world and this forum. I stopped using chemical fertilizer and Par 3. 6 years ago when my 7 year old son was diagnosed with Leukemia. He has been off treatment for almost 2 years now and doing very well.
For the last 6 years I haven't done anything to the lawn but cut and water it.
This year I got a soil analysis and started fertilizing once a month with fish emulsion and kelp. Still the grass doesn't seem to want to grow, but the dandilions certainly do. The PH was 7.8 the organic content was on the high side, mag. was high as well. I put down 200 pounds of calcium and 150 lbs of sulpher on 30,000 sq. ft. to bring down the ph and loosen the soil in mid June and along with the monthly fertilizing it still isn't growing well. Any suggestions? Sorry for the long post.


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Without seeing the exact contents of the test, it's hard to say. I personally prefer UMass or Logan Labs soil tests as many others are difficult to work with even having the whole test. Some tests simply don't include enough information.

Good on you for having high organic content! That alone can help mitigate a ton of other problems.

With that pH, I'm not sure you needed the calcium, but it does depend on the form you used. Calcium carbonate or calcium oxide might be a problem, calcium sulfate (gypsum) would not (but contrary to popular opinion it only loosens up a few very specific type of soils).

Let us know how the sulfur works. Surface-applied sulfur doesn't have a good rep as it tends to out-gas and get lost, but maybe it'll help you out.

And on the fertilizer--it sounds like a liquid? Those are rarely enough to feed the lawn terribly effectively unless you're using pounds per thousand square feet per month. Solid organic fertilizers like Milorganite (composted human poo) or soybean meal (ground soybeans) dropped at around 15 pounds per thousand around four to six times per year do work better.

It does depend on a lot of factors, though!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 2:31PM
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What is your soil type? Calcium and Sulfur will do little to loosen clay soils while organic matter will.
What did that soil test tell you about how much organic matter, humus, is in your soil. Many soil testing labs will tell you that 3 percent OM is high while some of us with long term experience feel that 6 to 8 percent is adequate. Sending soil samples across the border from Canada to the United States is prohibited.
Adding Calcium to balance the high Magnesium levels might help some, depending on how out of balance those minerals were.
Mid June to now is too quick for you to have seen much, if any, change in that soil. Perhaps these simple soil tests will be of some help.
1) Soil test for organic matter. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. For example, a good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drainsâ too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.

A recent study of the Milwaukee Sewerage Commissions discharge water into Lake Michigan found quite high levels of medications.

This post was edited by kimmsr on Mon, Sep 9, 13 at 7:57

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 7:48AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Agree with the above. Lawns need pounds and pounds of protein/nitrogen. All you get with the liquid sprays is ounces and ounces of water and micrograms of anything beneficial. You might have to go to weekly feedings with those.

As Morph mentioned, the dry fertilizers are what most of us use. My favorite is alfalfa pellets applied at a minimum of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. My favorite changes every year based on price. A 50-pound bag (20-kilo bag) of alfalfa should cost you less than $15 US at a feed store. Which one you use is much less important than just doing it.

Apply as often as your lawn budget allows. Morph has proved there seems to be no upper limit as to how much or how often you apply it. There is a practical limit where you could completely smother the grass at about 80 pounds per 1,000 square feet. And there might be an aromatic limit above 40 pounds where the fragrance of the decomposing organic matter goes beyond just noticeable to a point where you spouse comes unhinged.

With a soil pH of 7.8 you have no chance of taking it down. That indicates you live on limestone. You probably have a quarry, caverns, or cement plant in your area.

How are you watering? I may have asked you this on another one of your posts, but don't remember.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 6:33PM
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When it is really hot I water 1" per week and this time of year 1" per month.
Cut to 4" as needed.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 6:13PM
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That 1 inch of water per week is a rough guideline meant to be a starting point. During the spring and fall seasons that may be enough, but when it is really hot and dry your lawn may need more. Look at your grass and let it tell you when it needs water. Blue Grass, Perennial Rye, and Fescues turn a light bluish color and do not spring back when walked on when they need water.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 6:38AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Agreed. 1 inch is the starting point. My normal in the hottest part of summer is 3/8-inch per week. If the humidity drops I boost it to 5/8-inch per week. When we are in a prolonged heat and low humidity conditions, I will go to 7/8-inch per week. Everyone's soil, grass, and weather conditions will dictate a different final solution. Watch the grass. It will tell you if it needs more water.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 2:42AM
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