Removing Nitrogen from Soil

thecomposterAugust 26, 2009

Is there anyway to remove Nitrogen from the soil quickly? I over fertilized and it's becoming an issue.

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gardengal48

Incorporate sawdust, bark, wood chips or any wood product into the soil. That will serve to tie up the nitrogen and make it unavailable to the plants.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2009 at 11:45AM
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cowgirl2

High carbon material such as leaves or sawdust will work if you can dig it in. If not, watering will leach it out.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2009 at 12:41PM
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thecomposter

Thank you.

It sounds like dried grass chipping would work. Plus, grass clippings would decompose faster than wood chips for next years crop.

I already injected some wood chips into the rootball of one plant.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2009 at 1:15PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Water... water... water...

    Bookmark   August 26, 2009 at 1:30PM
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gargwarb

What kind of fertilizer did you use, how much, and what sorts of problems are you seeing?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2009 at 5:40PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

"It sounds like dried grass chipping would work. Plus, grass clippings would decompose faster than wood chips for next years crop. "

No, that will add more nitrogen. You want something with more carbon.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2009 at 6:27PM
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Dan Staley

If it's burning the veggies, water. If it's burning your conscience, sawdust/wood chips.

Dan

    Bookmark   August 26, 2009 at 6:42PM
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struwwelpeter(5)

If you can't disturb the plants, apply sugar solution; maybe, I am guessing, about 2 lb in 5 gals water per square yard.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 11:59AM
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thecomposter

This is the first I've heard of the use of sugar (not that this means much). It sounds like it will turn into an ant feast.

Can you explain how the sugar works chemically?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 1:00PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Sugar is high in carbon. The suggestions of wood chips or sugar is to add excess carbon to offset the extra nitrogen.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 1:16PM
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thecomposter

Will boric acid hurt plants?

Since the sugar will attract ants, I should control them with boric acid.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 1:38PM
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gardengal48

If the sugar is properly diluted in the water and applied to the soil - not the plants - there shouldn't be issues with ants. Ants in the garden are not really a problem unless they are farming aphids. If they appear anyway and you don't want them, bait for them with a saucer of sugar laced with boric acid. Don't apply it to the soil.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 1:56PM
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struwwelpeter(5)

Can you explain how the sugar works chemically?

After supplementing the soil bacterias' diet with sugar, the bacteria anabolize the fertilizer nitrogen and multiply.
I think most of the nitrogen is converted to bacteria protein and the rest is released into the air.

It was done in this article:

Sweet success: adding carbon to counter invasions by plants by Peter Alpert

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 4:10PM
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thecomposter

Thanks for the sugar info, I like to know how things work :)

I added the sugar mix to a "test" plant a few hours ago, so see what happens. Can I assume the nitrogen level is reduce within hours of adding sugar?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 5:44PM
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jbann23(6 RI)

By all means don't add boric acid. It'll kill the soil like you wouldn't believe. Gardengal48 has mentioned this and she's dead on right. Even a little boric acid will sterilize the area you put it in and you really don't want that. Sugar is almost a pure carbon source but so soluble it passes right through the soil with rain and watering. Your living soil needs to have a 'stay around' source of carbon and fine sawdust is just the ticket. It does have to be mixed in, though, for it to use up excess nitrogen. Watering heavely may wash it out if it is a "blue" additive (MG). If it's something like over-application of blood meal or alfalfa then you'll have to get the carbon into the soil to make the compensation work. Hope this helps with your situation.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2009 at 10:03PM
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thecomposter

What is said here about sugar reducing the nitrogen supplied to the plants is false, my plants turned greener after adding the sugar solution.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 12:04PM
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gargwarb

Did you hurt yourself jumping to that conclusion?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 1:38PM
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thecomposter

In plants, much of the nitrogen is used in chlorophyll molecules which are essential for photosynthesis and further growth. Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in most plants

The only thing I did differently is add the sugar solution and the plants turned greener. How would a different conclusion be determined?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 5:34PM
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gargwarb

Well, just for giggles, let's say your problem was an over application of nitrogen. Of course, I have no idea if your problem was over application of nitrogen because you never answered my questions above but let's just say that's what happened and follow it out a ways just for illustrative purposes.
One of the biggest problems with nitrogen over application is its contribution to salinity. (In regards to this, nitrate nitrogen is a bigger contributor to salinity than other forms like urea or ammoniacal) Anyway, symptoms of salt toxicity may include yellowing foliage. Then time passes and some of the nitrogen leaches out of the soil (along with other salts) and some volatilizes and some is taken up by plants. Maybe even some could have been tied up by carbon sources in the soil. If nitrogen did decrease significantly , then your salinity would also drop, which could conceivably decrease plants stress and improved performance, very possibly resulting in greener plants. That's just one example of something that could happen. There are approximately 300,958,658 bajillion other possibilities. Anything that adds or relieves plants stress can affect performance and appearance:
nutrients, soil moisture, evapotranspiration rates, root disease, light conditions, soil compaction, and on, and on, and on.....

"if A, then B; B, therefore A" has a way of turning around and biting your backside.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 12:24AM
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robertz6

I use shredded leaves as my main 'brown', and would suggest them as a good short term solution. Wood chips and bigger woody materials may continue to use up soil nitrogen for years as they break down.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 2:54PM
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struwwelpeter(5)

my plants turned greener after adding the sugar solution.

For an experimental failure, that's relatively good news. The worst that could happen is the plants dying and the next worse is no effect.

I should try it on my lawn.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 11:43AM
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Karenlow

Mix 1 gallon non chlorinated water with 1 Tablespoon of Wood Vinegar 1 Tbs Fish Amino Acid and 1 T calcium Phosphate. Some organic farmers also add 1T Brown Rice Vinegar to the water. Spray this on the soil to reduce the Nitrogen in the soil. After heavy rains, you can spray the same amount again as heavy rains cause a lot of nirogen in the air to fall on soils and plants. The rains causes fungal problems too. When you have fungal problems on plants, spray this solution when the day is hot with sun shining but use a fine, very fine mist spray. Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 7:22AM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

What exactly is Wood Vinegar?

How do vinegar, amino acids (which contain significant N, although the amount being added here is small) and calcium phosphate actually work to reduce nitrogen?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 1:59PM
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TXEB(9a)

:-]

watching

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 3:49PM
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