Whitetail Institute is very fast, I used them for some tests. Not exhaustive but the critical components are there and it’s quick: last time I put the sample in the mail on Tuesday afternoon in CA (ships to TN) and had my result emailed to me by Thursday afternoon! I think about $15/sample.
@hambone how are you paying for planting your trees in poor soil? Just asking because my soil is pretty terrible, but most of my trees are still managing to put on nice growth.
@jcguarneri, yes I mulched the trees most times, sometimes not. I know weeds compete with the tree for nutrients, and I was lax in that regard.
I think I’m just going to move a couple of trees (Golden Russet (G222) and Winecrisp (G202)). The other two I was considering, a Goldrush and Honeycrisp have better growth, and I think they’d do better if I kept them weeded and fertilized.
@RichardRoundTree, like I said my county office charged $3 a sample, but the same UK office in the next county charged $7. The tests done are P, K, Ca, Mg, Zn (all ppm, I believe), pH, CEC, %Base sat, %K, %Ca, %Mg, %H.
Plus recommendations for how much amendments needed for your specific crop. I posted a report on here a couple years ago, I’ll see if I can find it.
For friend’s soybean field: What about getting several free dumptruck loads of tree company woodchips and disking or plowing them down to get crappy soil healthy again? Less expensive than tons of compost. Probably 1% OM now, goal is 4% to get good soil life, feed the mycorrhryzae, etc. Plan is to fallow this land for a year anyway so tying up N with woodchips shouldn’t matter, right?
Weak growth on some trees but thinking about it more that might be due to problems with certain trees- poor roots to start with, etc. Let’s just say I accidentally tortured a few trees.
Do it with a nitrogen fixing cover crop and your soil will sing songs of glory about you to its grandchildren.
Just reading about tillage radish with tap root to six feet down- instead of sub-soiler to rip the plow pan and hard pan. Brilliant. And Sorghum/Sudan hybrid for huge organic matter boost.
Local permaculture friend just told me there is no substitute for deep ripping to cure plow pan and hard pan. He says he has seen tillage radish make an L shaped root when it hits the pan instead of drilling through it.
A well fertilized Sudan grass crop can be very impressive.
That , and rye grain/ vetch, are my favorite cover crops.
Lots of O.M. ,
I do daikon every year mixed with random selfed carrot seed from that summer. It provides food for worms and grub eaters.
@subdood_ky_z6b Thats a great report for your area and i think you are doing a good job. I think you could get away with adding CA up to 2200 K to 350. You have a perfect ph though CEC seems low
I wish your test did Iron and the micros. Here ours all do but in the rockies you can get really high (and really deficient on some) for micronutrients but its also $35 plus shipping and if im going to pay that much id love to get a more in depth analysis if they are available.
If you are looking for nitrogen fixation, you can’t beat hairy vetch. Mix it with cereal rye or a similar small grain and that will yield a really good carbon:nitrogen ratio in your cover crop. The best time to terminate is just before full bloom. Mixed with cereal rye, you should be able to get 5000+ lbs of dry matter per acre. We now grow hundreds of acres of hairy vetch now, and we have reduced a very substantial cost in fertilizer for our hay fields. It needs to be planted in the fall and properly inoculated in order to fix the most nitrogen. We experimented with several different legumes (clovers, peas, sunn hemp, etc) and nothing has compared to the hairy vetch for nitrogen fixation, at least where we are at. We can figure on about 100 lbs of actual N per acre following a straight vetch cover. That’s like applying 300 lbs of 34-0-0; you will see a response.
I have also experimented with Dikon radishes. They are really cool and can make a big root. They need to be planted in late summer/early fall. They will winter kill, so it is important to get them going early, so they can make that root. I’ve tried planting in February, and the plants go into seed making mode instead of root making mode like they do in the Fall. Good Luck!
I might throw a 50lb bag of aglime on it before planting in a couple months to help get the Ca up a bit, but I think it’s in pretty good shape for fruit trees. It’s certainly better than it was three years ago. Although, I don’t know what shape it’s in after a year of nothing being grown in it. It will need to have the rows mounded a bit, as water can collect in some spots. I prob will do another soil test on it and my other 3 garden plots soon.
The CEC is similar in all my plots, so that’s good in some ways, in that it drains well, but also leaches nutrients quicker. That plot was the hardest of all of them to work, as it had more rocks in it, nothing huge, no more than 5lb at the most. But the soil itself is pretty loose.
@Chaos_5 Good info thanks. When you “terminate” the vetch/rye do you disc it under or mow it first or ??? Thanks
In your situation, disking would be best. That would get that rye and vetch in contact with the soil and get it breaking down fast. The vetch will “melt” in a matter of weeks because of the high N concentration. Rye/wheat will take a few months. Summer covers I like include okra (super big tap root and overall root structure), Sunn Hemp (really awesome smelling flower needs cowpea inoculant), any Sudan grasses, and soybeans. Plant those in June. Terminate when sunn hemp starts blooming. Those are good soil building covers for summer. Again plow to terminate and get them in contact with the soil.
I will tell you that hairy vetch makes a ton of vines that are difficult to mow. Disking will be somewhat easier but expect to be cutting off some vines from your gangs. Box cutters work best.
Does it need to be incorporated into the soil or OK just leave on the surface?
Never heard of using okra as a cover crop, but it would definitely break up the soil and build organic matter! I had a community garden plot once that had been home to a shed up until the year before. Took a lot of work over several years to relieve the compaction. In the spots that I planted okra, I could almost stick my arm straight down into the soil the next spring! Their roots definitely break things up.
Well, if you plow it in, it will break down faster and release the nutrients faster. But, you will also break up the soil structure and lose some of what you are gaining with the cover. The whole deal with plowing is that organic matter burns up faster vs. no-till. This reduces fertilizer inputs at the cost of losing organic matter. If you just plow it really shallow so that it gets in contact with the soil and chop it up with the disc so the surface area of the residue is greater, it will break down moderately fast and not do as much damage to the soil structure. If you mow it, you will have the least amount of soil disruption, but it will break down slower.
Okra is a really cool cover here in the South, but I remember growing 6’ tall okra in Kentucky when I lived there, so it’s fairly adaptable around the country. We grew 40 acres this year as a double crop behind oats in a field with a hardpan. It was interesting to see the tap root bend at 90 degrees 8" down. Still I think it did a lot of good for that field. We were able to combine it for seed and get some pickled okra to boot. Also, okra seed is really high in protein. We are feeding it to our cattle this winter. I would recommend it in a mix before planting an orchard or anywhere that the soil structure needs help.
On hairy vetch…it is a great source of N and OM. However, unless you want the stuff around pretty much forever it needs to be terminated before it sets seed. It is also nearly impossible to disc the stuff in without mowing it first. Also…mow it high the first pass, then lower on successive passes.