Knowing a few ‘Ground Rules’ will assist you all season long
What your garden looks like above ground will ultimately be determined by what lies beneath. Regardless of the varieties you plant, or the amount you water, you will never have maximized yields unless you look to the condition of your soils. “You can do twenty things right, but if you get your soils wrong it will minimize even your best plans.” says soil remediation specialist, Dennis Stephens. The number one ingredient missing on most farmland is oxygen. “While traditional field practices may help, the gains can be quickly reversed by the first heavy rain.”
The goal according to Stephens is to achieve ideal soil condition: 45% mineral, 25% water, 25% air, 5% organic matter. After years of experimentation Stephens is unveiling a product that will make the process easy. Marketed under the trade name “Monty’s Humic LC Soil Conditioner,” this organic soil conditioner can be easily applied using hose-end sprayers or incorporated with seed starter, if you are using uncoated seeds. The conditioner is applied at 64 ounces per acre in 15 gallons of water directly to the soil surface.
This new product, an Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) certified liquid, works with the company’s proprietary humic technology to encourage beneficial bacteria and soil-borne microbes. Additionally, applied to the soil, it works to break up bonds between key nutrients, increase pore space and allow the roots to spread out. As the compacted, hard-pan, layer is broken up water can move through the soil profile more readily. There are other soil conditioners in the marketplace but none utilize so pure a humic. Many are in the form of an acid which can affect pH levels; Monty’s Humic LC Soil Conditioner’s unique structure leaves the humic able to form bonds with other elements in the soil which helps to free additional nutrients for the plant to utilize. The combination makes it easy for the roots to gather more oxygen, food, and water.
A Few Ground Rules for Healthy Soil
Stephens offered these few rules to follow when you head out to your lawn, garden or flower bed this spring:
- Check For Compaction.Try to dig a small patch of earth tiling spade or shovel. If the tool does not penetrate the ground easily, the soil is compacted. Compaction is usually caused by the retention of salt (common if you regularly use granular fertilizers), which strips the soil of beneficial, essential nutrients and by an imbalance between calcium and magnesium. Healthy soil should resemble box pancake mix, loose with a few small clumps that break apart easily.
- Three Must-Have Tests.1) Get a soil test. They are inexpensive, available from your county extension service, and the only way to know for sure what you need and don’t need. They also will help you track your progress. 2) Do an “Earthworm Test.” Dig some dirt, if your scoop of earth is devoid of earthworms, you have problems. Earthworms are the ‘canaries’ of the soil, they will be among the first things to die when the environment beneath ground level is in trouble. 3) Do a ‘Clump Test.’ Pull a small plant. If the roots come up easily, your soil’s in trouble. Healthy soil allows roots to penetrate down deep into the ground and hold on tightly. Shallow roots indicate that you are suffering from ‘hard pan’ and will spell trouble during a drought.
- Think Long-Term; Think Sustainability. Many farmers are now reaping the consequences of years of synthetic chemical use. Use products like Monty’s Humic LC Soil Conditioner until poor soil is restored. Once optimum levels are reached, depending on other practices and chemical usage, you will only need to reapply every 2-3 years in the spring or fall. To maintain top fertility, Monty’s also offers a line of foliar applied fertilizers for sustainable farming practices.
- Maintain Balance.There is a lot going on beneath the soil surface, most of it unseen. Not only are the types and kinds of nutrients important but also how they interact with each other. Too much magnesium in relation to calcium, hello compaction; let potassium outpace your calcium and you are open to a host of diseases; When phosphorous is out of sync with potassium you will see more broadleaf weeds. By working to restore balance, not just volume, you can protect the delicate cycle going on beneath your lawn or garden.
You will eventually have to condition and aerate your soil. The question is according to Stephens, “Do you want to do it with multiple trips with a ripper or with one pass in a spray rig?“ This season spray your way to better soil using technology, not tools, and remember these few ground rules for your best crops yet.
For a detailed analysis of your soil, call your local Agricultural Extension agent or dealer. If you are looking for tips, advice and products to help you maintain healthy soil, call 800-978-6342. Click here for more information about TurfVantage Humic LC.