This link came across my desk today and I gave it a read. I know most of you have had your soil tested and were able to determine where deficiencies existed and how to amend it to make it better. I’ve done this as well when I purchased my home. Although this link and it’s methods are quite “Ghetto” and do not really prove anything it may be an interesting experiment to try to compare multiple parts of your garden to look for variations.
My soil is heavy. I can tell just from turning the dirt over with a shovel but I’m certain some parts of my lawn/garden are better than others. I may try this in a few different locations just to see how different the soil really is. I’m sure mine is more than 30% clay.
Years ago with the kids for a science project. They collected soil from different places like the woods, gardens, compost, fill areas, roadside, etc.
The article says to let it set for a few hours, but clay particles are very fine and can stay suspended in water for much longer than that. Letting it sit undisturbed for a few days will give a more accurate observation. Of course, this only gives you a visual breakdown of the particulate structure, but doesn’t give a reading of the available nutrients.
Like Muddy, I done it a long time ago. FWIW, I for one don’t think it’s so much of a “ghetto” test. I think it’s somewhat valuable, any inconsistencies in it could just as well be attributed to any other kind of test. It is just to test soil structure and in that regard, I think it does fairly well imo.
I do think though that the soil structure may be more complex than the basic three categories that they mention clay, sand and silt. Partially or maybe even fully decomposed organic matter may even float.
Years ago i did this… let it settle for a while (overnight?)… I remember taking a picture of mine…i’d have to dig it up. I think i figured i was almost all sand…very thin dark layer on top.
Yeah…I’ve never done it here at my place where I live now. Maybe this weekend I’ll do it and post a photo. I really have no idea what to expect other than a very, very low clay content. At least at the top 1’ or so anyway.
It’s not a test of soil structure. The particle sizes define soil texture and this is a very rough test. For one thing how does one know where the cutoff is between the particle size classes? They drew lines but mine might be different. Also if any particles remain in aggregates the distribution will be off.
With a little experience one can read texture by feel. A clay soil when moist will form a ribbon. The others have a different feel.
There are actually 12 soil textural classifications in the soil textural triangle.
Well, that is true and I exactly get what you are saying, but that is the test. They’re making very basic categorizations based on density and particle size determined by how they settle out of a solution. It’s not intended to be an all inclusive test, but rather a simple way to visually see the general and broad makeup of soil. I don’t think you could do as good by feel unless you make a habit of feeling a lot of soil often. At least I know I couldn’t.
I have done it before. It did not tell me anything new, that I have not known before. But it is still fun. By the way you can take the soil from the different areas of your garden to compare the results.
Soil drainage is much more important for fruit trees than soil structure or texture.
Usually the subsoil is higher clay than the topsoil. That’s caused by rain water moving clay downward.
That is interesting, I have never studied soils. I would have guessed that the clay was the main soil until decaying vegetable matter slowly built a top soil above it. Waters movement through the earth does amazing things.