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Anyone here farm primarily Silty Soil?

Posted by fertile_ground California (My Page) on
Sun, May 3, 09 at 16:07

I was wondering if anyone has advice or experience growing in silty soil.

I have been looking at locations around San Diego Co to rent land to grow for farmer's market and CSA. I have found a site that looks very promising, the only problem is that a soil jar test showed the soil was composed primarily of silt and only 5% clay/sand. The silt does seem fairly coarse, rather than powdery.

This soil type appears to have its advantages and disadvantages for this scale enterprise (.5-2 acres). Judging by the cover crop it looks like it has good fertility (still waiting on the lab results) and the soil is easy to work with handtools. I'm concerned about drainage, and compaction preventing air entering the root zone.

This site is along side a creek/river that is usually dry. The site does have a high water table, perc test show it has risen to 5 feet below the field during wet months which are few in southern california. Another advantage of this site is the deep and productive well.

Does anyone recommend specific amendments for building soil structure (mushroom compost vs steer or horse manure)? how about glomaline or worm castings?

Or should i look for another site with a better sand/silt/clay ratio? In san diego the alternatives appear to be either high clay or sand content, this site is exceptional.

In the past the land has grown grass and alfalfa, but hasn't been farmed for at least 10 years. I plan to grow a wide variety of vegetables for CSA and whatever grows best for farmer's market.

Thanks for reading and any wisdom you care to share.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Anyone here farm primarily Silty Soil?

I used to farm on silt loam soil. It was some of the most productive soil in mt state. It holds water longer during dry spells and the small particle size has a greater capacity to hold nutrients. You might find that it ties up the release of phosphorus. Be carefull not to work it when wet it compacts and hardens easily... Bob.

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