Posts Tagged ‘Soil Health’

Healthy Soil Part 2

Healthy Productive Soil for Great Plants

 

You need to think of your soil as a living, breathing entity in the same way as you would any animal.  For complete health both animal and plants need air, water, sunlight and a food source for nutrients.

Healthy soil is a living thing with about 5% of the organic matter in the soil being live organisms (http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/concepts/soil_biology/soil_food_web.html ) of some type that work within the soil to provide plants what they need to grow and be healthy.  Because of this need for life in your soil, it is necessary for you to continually add fresh organic matter to your soil.  The amount of organic matter to needed varies widely depending on climate and type of soil.

Let us look at each of the major components needed:

Air: Your soil needs to be open enough to allow air to penetrate and be available to the beneficial biology in the soil so they can function.  If you have a heavy clay soil you need to make sure that you get enough organic material and some sand into it to keep it from getting hard.

Water: Moisture is needed for all life and your soil is no different, it is used by both plant and soil biology.  In this case the type of soil you have is important, a high percentage of sand and the water moves through very rapidly and makes it difficult to keep moisture available for life.  Too much clay and your soil harder not allowing water to penetrate so it just runs off before it can be absorbed.  Here again the organic material you add can do wonders.  It will add bulk to sand and will open clay up to allow moisture to penetrate.

Sunlight: Sunlight helps warm the soil so that the much of the beneficial soil biology can function.  Soil biology activity follows seasonal patterns as well as daily patterns with the greatest activity, depending on your climate, in late spring when temperature and moisture are optimal for growth.

Food Source For NutrientsFood sources, plant nutrients, are divided into two groups. The first group is the Non-Mineral nutrients that include hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. These depend on water, air and sunlight so the only real control you have is the amount of water plants receive.  There is a minimum of 13 mineral nutrients, which come from the soil, and are dissolved in water and absorbed through a plant’s roots.  There are not always enough of these nutrients in the soil for a plant to grow healthy which is why we  use fertilizers to add the nutrients to the soil.   Soil biology plays a major part in this cycle in that they take these nutrients and change them into a form that the plant roots can absorb.

Balance: Healthy productive soil is something that takes continuous work to keep all the needed parts balanced. I break it down into four major categories.

  1. Soil Structure – At one end of the spectrum you have sand, which is made up of small pieces of rock, at the other end you have clay.  Both in pure form are not good for growing plants.  Sand is so porous it will not hold water and clay is too dense for water and air to penetrate, but clay increases the soils ability to bond chemically and hold nutrients.  The best scenario is a mix of both and the correct mixture depends on your climate.
  2. Organic Material – A must for healthy soil.  With out it you do not have soil biology.  You need organic matter in all phases of decomposition at all times to keep the soil biology active and producing or converting the nutrients that plants need.  The warmer your climate the more organic material you must add. You need organic material in all three stages to keep your soil healthy.  When adding organic matter you need to take into account the carbon-nitrogen ratio (C:N).  If you apply organic material that has a C:N ratio higher than 30 to 1 the decomposing process is going to pull nitrogen out of the soil, exactly what you DON’T want to happen.
  3. Plant Nutrients – This can be broken down into four categories of Primary, Secondary, Macro and Micronutrients.
  •  Primary – Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K).
  • Secondary – Calcium (Ca), Sulfur (S), Magnesium (Mg).
  • Macronutrients – Silicon (Si).
  • Micronutrients (Trace Elements) – Boron (B), Chlorine (CI), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Molybdenum (Mo), Nickel (Ni), Selenium (Se) and Sodium (Na).

The amounts of these nutrients vary with the type of plants you are growing and the soil pH.  Some plants want an acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 or lower, others need an alkaline soil with a pH of over 7.0.  These nutrients function differently at higher or lower pH levels, so pH changes can cause plants to become starved of one nutrient and have an over abundance of another.  It is very difficult to keep all nutrients in balance at all times so I use foliar sprays to compensate for some imbalances.

  1. Soil Biology – This category is so very important and can be destroyed by misuse of synthetic fertilizer, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides.  Healthy soil with a good balance of nutrients and plentiful supply of organic material can produce the beneficial soil biology to grow healthy plants that can resist insects and disease. This biology breaks down the minerals and organic matter to forms that plants can use.  They work with plant roots to extend the roots ability to gather food and moisture.  When they die they become food for plants and other biology.

Summery: Any time you harvest anything from your soil you are removing nutrients; vegetables, flowers, grass clippings or anything else you remove is depleting the soil and you need to replenish it.

TurfPro liquid and AgriPro Dry products can help you keep your soil healthy by adding a wide range of trace elements that are readily available to soil biology and plant roots. They both can furnish a wide range of beneficial soil biology to aid in keeping your soil healthy and they are one of the few products that contain lignin. Lignin can hold many times it weight in water and can naturally help to keep your soil moist.  Our products are verified 100% for organic growing.

(For more great information on the Soil Health Wheel click here.)

The TurfPro USA Difference

Let us take a look at TurfPro USA and what makes it different from other soil amendments and inoculants on the market.

TurfPro USA products are not fertilizer, but a unique blend of soil conditioner, inoculants and nutrient converter from a rare, ancient humus deposit. It has proven effective for agriculture, horticulture and pollution control.  They come from a single deposit found in the southeastern USA. It is a surface deposit that has never been hardened, so it has not been subjected to heat or chemicals that kill biology like most Humate products on the market.  A natural depression was formed in the ground and it filled up with organic material.  Laboratory test have shown that it is over 94% organic material with the rest being plant available trace elements.  Of the 94% organic matter over 67% of it is Humic acid.  The plant available trace elements include Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Boron, Copper and Sulfur.  The other thing that it has that coal derived Humates do not is lignin which naturally helps the soil hold moisture.

All of our products were developed in partnership with the US EPA and their carry the “Design for the Environment” Seal (http://www.epa.gov/etop/connect_private.html ). All of our agricultural products are verified to meet USDA standards for organic growing.  They also meet Canadian, Japanese and UAE organic standards.

Our manufacturing process begins by clearing the surface brush from the area.  We then remove the top few inches of material.  The material is then put through a number of screens to remove any roots or other debris and to size for the dry product. This is the extent of processing our dry product receives.  It is totally natural as it comes out of the ground.  No grinding, heat or chemicals used in the process so it is 100% naturally organic and because of the low amount of hydrocarbon fuel used in processing the result is a very green product.

Because the deposit has never been overburdened or subjected to modern day pollution and runoff, it is a mixture of available elements and very light in heavy metals.  The pre-ice age organic material has a wide range of beneficial elements that are in a form that soil biology and plant roots can easily work with.  Many products are adding ground rock for trace elements that are very difficult for soil biology and plants to change into a form plants can use.

Our liquid products are all formed using a cold water extraction process that preserves its unique and valuable micro-biology and give you a highly concentrated liquid for use in all types of applicators.

The TurfPro USA difference:

v    All natural from a single source.

v    Contains one of the highest levels of Humic acid at 67.7%.

v    Contains many of the trace elements that plants need in a form that is readily available to plants.

v    Contains a wide range of beneficial plant biology that work with plants to provide food and to control diseases.

v    Contains lignin which can hold many times its weight in water and will hold elements to so they stay in the plant root zone longer.

v    Naturally Green. Our mining and processing is minimal so our products come to you having used very small amounts of hydrocarbon fuel.

v    All products are E coli free.

v    All products are safe to use around children, pets, and wildlife.

v    Shelf life is two years or more if not subjected to excessive heat.

Make a difference in your environment, buy Green, go Organic!

E-mail comments and questions to: sales@turfprousa.com or call (407)340-7639

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Dog Spots

Dog Urine Spot Before TurfPro 

A Better Understanding of Dog Urine Spots on Grass

To be able to deal with dog spots you first need to know why they happen and the effects they have on grass and the soil.

  • Dog urine whether it is from a male or a female is 95 percent water and 5 percent water-soluble organic materials and ions.  The amounts of substances present in urine vary with time of day, diet and nutrition, but the chemical structure of dog urine is fairly constant.  Beside the water, urine contains; urea, creatine, uric acid, carbohydrates, enzymes, fatty acids, hormones, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium and ammonia.  It is the hormones that makes dog urine different from human.  Any dog can tell the sex, health and even the breed from smelling the crystals that are left when it dries.
  • Lets look at what a ‘Dog Spot’ is.  You will hear people say that the grass or plants are is burnt.  Actually what happens is the salt in the chemicals drawing all of the moisture out of the plant leaves, its roots and killing the beneficial soil biology by dehydration.  Technically it is called ‘hygroscopic’ action.  You will notice that at the edge of a ‘Dog Spot’ the grass is very green and healthy.  This is where the amount of nitrogen is down to a level to where there is enough water available so the nitrogen is feeding the grass instead of damaging it.
  • We talk mainly of the damage to lawns that are more likely to be caused by female dogs than males but shrubs and other tall plants can be damaged by male dogs, if they are located where dogs regularly mark them.  The other thing that can reduce damage is to install a post of some type at a critical point so the male dogs will use it instead of your plants.  Female dogs can be trained to use specific areas if you have the time and the patience to do it.
  • Dog spots in lawns vary with the type of grass you grow and the type of soil you have.  Because of the varied climate conditions we have in this country you need to get with a local expert as to what grass is best in your area.  Keeping a healthy level of organic material in the soil and doing what you can to get the grass roots to go deep can make a difference.
  • The first thing you need to do when you see a new dog spot is to thoroughly water the spot to dilute the urea to where it cannot remove all of the water from the plant.  In most cases you are still going to get crown burn but you will save the roots and soil biology.  The thing you do not want to do is put any type of fertilizer on these areas. It will just compound the problem.
  • You will hear that things like saw dust will help.  It does because of the lignin in it can bind up chemicals and it helps store water the plants will need.  Worm tea and compost tea if fresh will replenish the soil biology so it can work with the roots.  The other thing you have to fight is the chemical imbalance that locks up many of the other nutrients that plants need plus the nitrogen chemically breaks down the organic material in the soil thus reducing its fertility.  This can be corrected in part by adding Humates.
  • The reason we recommend TurfPro USA products for use on dog spots is that it is a 100% organic material that has all of the things we talk about above.  It contains lignin, beneficial soil biology, trace elements and has one of the highest levels of Humates available. It also will diminish the odor that is caused by the ammonia and sulfur in the urine.

Treating Dog Spots:

v    For the fastest recovery dog spots need to be treated as soon after they happen as possible.  I recommend using an adjustable rate hose end sprayer set at 2 ounces a gallon or one of EZFLO’s hose bib units EZ Flow Fertigation set on fast.  In coastal regions of the country and from the Rocky Mountains west I would recommend Turf and Garden Pro with Iron and for the rest of the country Turf and Garden Pro works well.  Water the spot down to where you dilute the urine and give good coverage with TGP.

v    For older spots where the grass is dead you need to remove surface thatch to allow good aeration of the soil.  For best results I recommend spreading some of our AgriPro on the area at a rate of 1/4 cup per every one (1) square feet of area. This adds a high level of biology to the area to hasten recovery.  It is available in 2 pound bags that can cover 20 square feet. Also available in 40 pound bags.

After spreading the dry product soak the area down well using our liquid product at a rate of 2 ounces per gallon of water.  Do not water to where you get runoff.  If your soil is real dry you may have to water a little bit at a time till it loosens up enough to hold water.

v    Do not get fertilizer on these areas till you see good recovery or you could reverse the entire process.

Our web site is  www.turfprousa.com  or contact me at  jloepp@turfprousa.com

B007                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4/14/2011

Healthy Soil Part 1

Synthetic vs. Organic Fertilizers

What are the effects on plants, soil and the environment of synthetic versus organic fertilizers?  Fillers, water solubility, nutrient availability, reduced disease resistance, environmental damage, reduced soil carbon levels and reduced nutritional value of food crops are all factors related to the use of synthetic fertilizers.

A standard synthetic fertilizer like 15-5-10 has 15% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus and 10% potassium.  This adds up to only 30%, so what is the other 70%?  Filler!  This filler can be most anything and in some cases, toxic substances that can be harmful to the environment and once applied to food crops these materials can enter our food.  An EPA study on the accumulation of heavy metals in soils treated with synthetic fertilizer found increased levels of cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury, copper and zinc.1 Without this filler the soluble nitrogen rate would be so high that it would burn both plants and soil biology.   With organic fertilizer all of the material in the bag is organic and will furnish many of the other elements that plants need and will help the process of building organic material in your soil to support beneficial soil biology.

The N-P-K in synthetic fertilizer is very water-soluble so it can act very rapidly for plant growth. This sudden increase in growth is not desirable because it causes plants to grow with weak cell walls making the plants susceptible to insects and reduces disease resistance.2 This works out nicely for the chemical manufacturers because they sell more insecticide, fungicides and other chemical poisons in an effort to battle the weakened plants.  Studies have shown that up to 36% of the synthetic derived nitrogen applied to the soil will become environmental pollutants in the ground water.3 While organic fertilizers reduce the amount of nitrogen that is leached through the soil and ends up in the ground water.4 Synthetic fertilizer also have excessive amounts of salt that reduce the water holding capacity of the soil, reduces the plant roots ability to absorb water and will kill many types of beneficial soil biology.  With organic fertilizer the N-P-K are in a more stable form and will not burn plants or harm the beneficial soil biology.

Most synthetic fertilizers use triple super phosphate, which is made by treating rock phosphate with phosphoric acid.  It is not in a form plants can use so if not converted by soil biology, it leaches out and becomes an environmental pollutant.  Phosphate also locks up many of the trace elements plants need reducing the overall nutrient availability. The phosphate in organic fertilizers is in a plant available form that binds to other organic matter and does not readily wash through and become a pollutant.

The potassium in most synthetic fertilizers is muriate of potash or potassium chloride. They are both highly water-soluble and tend to pass through the plant root zone very rapidly.  The continued use of synthetic fertilizers slowly reduces  the soil of organic carbon and lowers crop yields, so the more fertilizer applied the smaller the reaction in plants.5 This also results in the vegetables being grown having between 5%-40% less nutritional value when compared to vegetables grown 50 years ago before the introduction and use of synthetic fertilizers.6

When looking at the cost of fertilizer you need to consider what you are getting for your money. If a 40 pound bag of 10-10-10 synthetic fertilizer cost you $10.00 you are paying that money for 12 pounds of active useful ingredients or $0.83 per pound. For a 40 pound bag of organic fertilizer you pay $20.00 you are getting 40 pounds of active useful ingredients or $0.50 per pound. What is not used of the organic fertilizer in the first year stays in the soil and helps build the total organic matter in the soil.7

“Every pound of excess Nitrogen applied to the soil by artificial fertilizers destroys 100 pounds of humus… ” The Carbon Connection, L. Ridzon and C. Walters

Our 100% organic Turfpro USA and AgriPro products add organic carbon to the soil as well as many types of beneficial soil biology and most needed trace elements. They help build the water holding capacity of the soil while opening the soil up to allow air to plant roots and soil biology.

1 EPA, BACKGROUND REPORT ON FERTILIZER USE, CONTAMINANTS AND REGULATION, EPA, 1999.  http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pubs/fertilizer.pdf

2 E. N. Yardim and C. A. Edwards, “Effects of Organic and Synthetic Fertilizer Source on Pest and Predatory Insects Associated with Tomatoes”,  Phytoparasitica, (2003). http://www.springerlink.com/content/k446um161x751867/

3 Dale Weston and Bruce Seelig, Managing Nitrogen Fertilizer to Prevent Groundwater Contamination, North Dakota State University, Extension Bulletin No. 64, April, 1994. http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/soilfert/eb64w.htm

4 Martha Turner, P.E Austin Area Fertilizer Impacts.  City of Austin Watershed Protection and Development Review Department, Environmental Resource Management Division, Water Resources Evaluation Section, 2003. http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/watershed/publications/files/sr0307_fertilizerimpact.pdf

5 R.L. Mulvaney, S.A. Khan, T.R. Ellsworth Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizers Deplete Soil Nitrogen , Univeristy of Illinois, 2009. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19875786

6 Donald R. Davis, “Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Compostion”, Journal of HortScience, Febuaray 2009. http://www.awomenswellnesscenter.org/news/IndustrialFarming.pdf

7 M.S. Clark, W.R. Horwath, C. Shennan, and K.M. Scow. 1998. “Changes In Soil Chemical Properties Resulting From Organic And Low-Input Farming Practices”. Agronomy Journal. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19875786

3/9/2011                                                                                                                                                                                                           B0002