Green: 2019 Soil Tests

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Green
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Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » May 9th, 2019, 12:49 pm

Ok! Here I am sneaking in on the last day before interpretations for new members start.

Here is last year's thread, in which the Front (including side lawn in 2018 and prior), Back, and Low-input area (as a whole--see below) were tested. I don't feel the need to test the back this year: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=23938&hilit=green+tests

My 2019 results:
Image

So, here's the background this year. I have 4 tests this time, but there's a method to the madness, and I hope I never need 4 again:

1.) I decided to test the side and front separately this year rather than together as I've always done. Just doing this because I had a more difficult time growing grass on the side during the heat of the Summer, and wanted to see if there was anything special that area needed.

2.) Due to strange test results last year in the low-input area, as well as what appeared to be different soil types in different parts of the area, I decided to split it into two tests, "Low Input" and "LF". "LF" is the area that's flood-prone and prone to ponding, and I'd like to start fixing it this year to reduce the amount of time the water sits. It causes stunted grass in the warm weather, and Winter kill from constant ice in the Winter. There is next to no grass left there, now.

The OM is apparently extremely low in that area...but...I can't just mulch mow leaves into it anymore...it exacerbates the issue with the drainage. My thinking as to why, is that there appears to be an organic layer in the top inch or two (very dark brown soil--hoping it's not an anaerobic black layer), but at the 4-inch depth where I tested, it's a lot of orange sand that acts like a clay. Weird, right? What I'd like to do, is to help encourage the organic upper layers to penetrate and mix into the sandy layer below. I think that's why I have the drainage issue; the upper layer is staying on top due to poor soil structure. I'm also strongly considering applying a very light topdressing of locally-sourced (CT-derived) mason sand mixed with a little peat moss on top before reseeding to help with the firmness of the ground. The sogginess situation is that bad! And if there's anything that I can do with other amendments based on the tests that would help out, I'm all for it. At this point, I'm looking to seed in early August.

Also, what to do about the still-high exchangeable Hydrogen in the greater low-input area?

Thanks, Andy!

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ken-n-nancy
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by ken-n-nancy » May 9th, 2019, 1:38 pm

Green wrote:
May 9th, 2019, 12:49 pm
... "LF" is the area that's flood-prone and prone to ponding, and I'd like to start fixing it this year to reduce the amount of time the water sits. It causes stunted grass in the warm weather, and Winter kill from constant ice in the Winter. There is next to no grass left there, now.

The OM is apparently extremely low ... it exacerbates the issue with the drainage. My thinking as to why, is that there appears to be an organic layer in the top inch or two (very dark brown soil--hoping it's not an anaerobic black layer), but at the 4-inch depth where I tested, it's a lot of orange sand that acts like a clay. Weird, right? What I'd like to do, is to help encourage the organic upper layers to penetrate and mix into the sandy layer below. I think that's why I have the drainage issue; the upper layer is staying on top due to poor soil structure. ...
Hmm. No grass there currently, some odd stratification of soil layers. I wonder if this is one of the times that it actually makes sense to do something drastic like till the top 8 inches of soil to mix it all together, or do intensive deep aeration? Downsides to massive soil disturbance are having to deal with issues of unevenness from tilling, bringing up weed seeds, and making the area subject to erosion from runoff, but when soil disturbance is required, there's never a better time to do it than *before* re-seeding, rather than after...

I'm curious as to what Andy will recommend for this situation!

Green
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » May 9th, 2019, 9:09 pm

I'd rather try KOH than till! Haha.

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andy10917
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by andy10917 » May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am

OK. I've this set of tests 4 times now, and I've got to admit that I find them challenging. But before I go on, I have to make a few comments in general...

You may not like what I have to say, but I don't like the approach of treating sections of the lawn differently. Yes, it appears that there are some real challenges in your soil, but the different approaches are causing a divergence in soil conditions and the areas where they adjoin are probably seeing funky chemical/environmental reactions. You could taper/transition the margins, but that would result in even more micromanagement.

That "LF" area has challenges that need to be figured out, and there is only one way to do that - grab a shovel and figure out what it is. The black layer is probably the result of high OM sitting over something that is keeping it from penetrating deeper. The fact that it holds water in wetter weather and burns out in summer makes me think that it is keeping the roots from going to full depth. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if there was a large pocket of clay down a few inches. But a soil test can't show that. Figure it out and post what you find. I'll wait to make recommendations of what to do in that area until you do.

All of the other areas have good-to-excellent OM levels, which is an achievement in CT.

The Front and Side sample areas also have TEC's that are slightly sandy to lighter Loam. That's come along.

In the cations, the Low-input area needs attention to get the soil working right - even low-input areas need to utilize the nutrients effectively. Treat it with 9 lbs/K of good calcitic lime and 2 lbs/K of Epsom Salts every 90 days. For the Front and Side areas, throw a cup of Epsom Sallts per K in with other applications of stuff every 60 days or so.

A couple of apps of SOP at 2 lbs/K this year would be a good idea. Whether you do that in the low-input area is up to you.

Phosphorus is good in the Front and Side areas. Again, it's up to you on the Low-input area.

Iron ranges from a bit low to marginally-OK. But it's high in the LF area - no idea why. Get the shovel.

Do you want to play with micro's in 2019?

What are your ideas about a Nitrogen plan?

This is all over the board, but it's a starting point for discussion. I suspect this will go on for a while....

Green
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » May 11th, 2019, 1:16 pm

ken-n-nancy wrote:
May 9th, 2019, 1:38 pm
Hmm. No grass there currently, some odd stratification of soil layers...

I'm curious as to what Andy will recommend for this situation!
Interesting results and comments from Andy, huh? I knew this would be a fun one! :-)


Green
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » May 11th, 2019, 1:49 pm

andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
OK. I've this set of tests 4 times now, and I've got to admit that I find them challenging.


Nice! When the soil expert says it's challenging, it means we can all learn something from it. I like a little bit of challenge.

andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
You may not like what I have to say, but I don't like the approach of treating sections of the lawn differently. Yes, it appears that there are some real challenges in your soil, but the different approaches are causing a divergence in soil conditions and the areas where they adjoin are probably seeing funky chemical/environmental reactions. You could taper/transition the margins, but that would result in even more micromanagement.

That's a really good point. I think it makes sense to go back to integrating the front and side again next year. But I did want to see how much they varied, and I got my answer. As far as the boundary between the back (not in need of testing or real work this year) and low-input area, that boundary is a real one. When the back reno was done, we brought in a lot of good quality compost-based topsoil due to construction work that was being done and the need to re-grade and finish grade. I often wondered about that boundary issue when applying stuff like Lime...I think I'll feather the low-input application a bit away from the boundary this year per your suggestion, to prevent the Lime and stuff from overshooting. Same where the side meets the back. But those are the only two places I'll need to be careful.
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
That "LF" area has challenges that need to be figured out, and there is only one way to do that - grab a shovel and figure out what it is. The black layer is probably the result of high OM sitting over something that is keeping it from penetrating deeper. The fact that it holds water in wetter weather and burns out in summer makes me think that it is keeping the roots from going to full depth. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if there was a large pocket of clay down a few inches. But a soil test can't show that. Figure it out and post what you find. I'll wait to make recommendations of what to do in that area until you do.

Already done, while digging out rocks. That's actually how I came to realize there were layering issues and that I should test the area separately. I don't want a swamp...I want a lawn!

To me, the soil in that area seems like a clay when I handle it. It's also orange a few inches down, which I guess might go along with either the clayey aspect, and/or the higher iron possibly...?

You're spot-on that the roots don't penetrate the top layer. This appears due to the stratification, and the resulting flooding--both.

Think I should do the jar test to be certain what I have?
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
All of the other areas have good-to-excellent OM levels, which is an achievement in CT.

Thanks. Mulch mowing. For a long time. And a couple of compost topdresses over the years.
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
In the cations, the Low-input area needs attention to get the soil working right - even low-input areas need to utilize the nutrients effectively. Treat it with 9 lbs/K of good calcitic lime and 2 lbs/K of Epsom Salts every 90 days.

If I had never tested the "LF" area separately, we never would have seen that the low-input area was in need of this stuff. The LF area was masking the results the past couple of years, swaying the continguous low-input area's results to make it look like this stuff was no longer needed. The condition of the grass in the low-input, though, said otherwise--it really struggles, still.

Green
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » May 11th, 2019, 2:05 pm

reply, continued...
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
For the Front and Side areas, throw a cup of Epsom Sallts per K in with other applications of stuff every 60 days or so.
Not a problem. I'm happy to be able to fine-tune some things at this point.
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
A couple of apps of SOP at 2 lbs/K this year would be a good idea. Whether you do that in the low-input area is up to you.
Totally. I have it. Will use it.
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
Phosphorus is good in the Front and Side areas.
Again, it's up to you on the Low-input area.
Milorganite. And I have some starter fertilizer I can use in the early Fall as well.
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
Iron ranges from a bit low to marginally-OK. But it's high in the LF area - no idea why. Get the shovel.
Again, Milorganite will help the areas in need of iron!

As far as the LF area: As I said, the root zone has a good amount of orange clayey/fine textured stuff that holds water. When I got all my samples together from the LF area, I could mold the soil like the clay I used in grade school.
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
Do you want to play with micro's in 2019?
Definitely.
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
What are your ideas about a Nitrogen plan?
Other than Milorganite, which seems to be the answer to a lot of things? Going to stick with my current plan, which at minimum involves about 3 lbs per thousand of N a year, including my unique approach to the final winterizer that I've been adjusting over the years. Often, the Spring apps are fully organic, but I do Philes as needed also. Likewise, I do your aggressive deal in the Fall when needed. I've played with my N-app timings and learned a great deal from podcasts and articles from the better University guys. I'm big on efficiency, timing my apps for maximum benefit. I think I've got a lot of it figured out, finally.
andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
This is all over the board, but it's a starting point for discussion. I suspect this will go on for a while....
Yup. I appreciate it.

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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » June 24th, 2019, 10:01 pm

Andy: I had been wanting to follow up for a while in this thread.

I am looking for micronutrient recommendations, yes.

And I noticed in the low input area that the ground tends to fracture at the surface. Is there anything that would explain that based on the test results?

Green
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » July 1st, 2019, 5:19 pm

andy10917 wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 11:22 am
Do you want to play with micro's in 2019?
Yes, I do. Looking to start them in about a week.
Let me guess...Boron everywhere?

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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by andy10917 » July 1st, 2019, 6:24 pm

Half right.

Boron (from 3 tablespoons/K of Twenty Mule Team laundry soap) and Zinc (from 3 tablespoons/K of Zinc Sulfate on EBAY/Amazon). Every 60 days. Use the Micronutrient Application Guide.

Green
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » July 1st, 2019, 7:10 pm

andy10917 wrote:
July 1st, 2019, 6:24 pm
Boron (from 3 tablespoons/K of Twenty Mule Team laundry soap) and Zinc (from 3 tablespoons/K of Zinc Sulfate on EBAY/Amazon). Every 60 days. Use the Micronutrient Application Guide.
Sounds good. Still working on my original box of Boron from a few years ago, and I believe I have the Zinc, as well. Thanks.

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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by andy10917 » July 1st, 2019, 7:47 pm

You'll be working on that box of Mules for a while yet...

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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » November 17th, 2019, 6:40 pm

andy10917 wrote:
July 1st, 2019, 7:47 pm
You'll be working on that box of Mules for a while yet...
Hah! I'm finally near the bottom of the box, actually.

Hey, quick question for you...

I didn't have any time this year to work on that "flood-prone" area. I'm going to do it in the Spring...improve the drainage, topdress with a more sandy (home-made) soil to firm it up (can't believe I'm saying that!), and finally: do a Spring lawn renovation on the area.

I know you said you'd wait until I had more info about the soil structure before you were going to provide soil testing recommendations. So, do I need to retest it again next year when I start, in order for you to do that? Or would you be OK going with the older test from 2019 in this case instead of me retesting in 2020? It's a 1,000 square foot area, approx. I doubt anything has really changed...I haven't applied anything except Nitrogen a couple of times, and a pre-emergent.

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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by andy10917 » November 17th, 2019, 9:02 pm

I'm not really understanding what you're asking. Can you supply some context?

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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » November 17th, 2019, 9:47 pm

andy10917 wrote:
November 17th, 2019, 9:02 pm
I'm not really understanding what you're asking. Can you supply some context?
Yes. I have last year's test of that area in the above thread. You said you were going to hold off recommending amendments and a schedule until I reported back more info about the soil structure (OM stuck on top, and clayey underneath).

I never had time to go digging in 2019 to look at it closely. Therefore I never got back to you about the soil in that area. But I plan to do it next Spring. Is there any reason to resample the area at that time, even though I didn't apply any amendments to the area in 2019? Or would you be OK going by the test from 2019, rather than me having to go resampling in early Spring and wasting last year's test? I know once you said you don't generally like going by old tests to produce recommendations, but this might be a bit different...

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andy10917
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by andy10917 » November 18th, 2019, 8:44 pm

If you get the time in the Spring to inspect the soil structure, I'll work from last year's results in that area.

Green
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Re: Green: 2019 Soil Tests

Post by Green » November 18th, 2019, 10:01 pm

andy10917 wrote:
November 18th, 2019, 8:44 pm
If you get the time in the Spring to inspect the soil structure, I'll work from last year's results in that area.
Ok, thanks a lot. It's the first thing I plan to do next Spring once the area is free of ice and/or dry enough to walk on.

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