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Soluble Salts

Posted by Greg1978 North Mississippi (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 15, 13 at 23:05

I recently planted my 6 blueberry bushes and had my soil tested at the local university and 2 of my soil sample came back with excessive soluble salt. (1) was 2.2-Ph 3.7, (2) was 1.1-Ph 5.5 , which they said both were high and the 3rd which I think are my potted blueberries (3) is low at 0.4-Ph 4.9 . Can anyone tell me how to correct?. I am going to have the soil tested again to make sure I have the test correct with the locations I put in each box. Didn't do good job of labeling the 1st time. Want to get it right!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Soluble Salts

From an experienced gardener I will tell you a secret. Don't bother with getting a soil test. Farms and large gardens can really use them cause they have to know just what they need and can save on nutrients. They dont want to make perfect soil, so they get the soil tested then add whats needed, simple. You dont need to do that at all, in fact ph DOES NOT matter. Thats right, blueberries need a low ph,in fact thats the soil they are native to. The thing is- when your soil has a ton of organic matter (compost) the buffer becomes so strong the ph is irrelevant. This is why there has been fields in smaller countries that the farmers would use heavy amounts of ash from burnt wood on the field. When scientists tested the ph it was above 8, but yet the crops were growing perfect. Why? Because of the heavy amounts of composted manure they used (also high in ph) gave the soil a high organic matter so much that it buffered the ph. This is why hydroponics are sensitive to ph because there is no OM or organic matter to buffer.

Just till in compost to your original soil where you want to plant. The compost does not have to be pricey or nutrient rich, it can be composted wood or leaves, as long as you get your OM up. Nutrition can be as easy as some time release fertilizer that has all secondary macros. Always use 1/4-1/3 of what they recommend on the fertilizer package.

This post was edited by TheMasterGardener1 on Sun, Dec 15, 13 at 23:58


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RE: Soluble Salts

What kinds of soluble salt the test is referring to? There are about 16 different kinds of salt(element) a plant needs to thrive.


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The soil test results you received, if from Mississippi State University, should have had something identifying what soluble salts and what to do to correct any soil problems if you indicated what you wanted to grow in that soil.
Salt is a chemistry term referring to anything with chloride in its name, so Potassium chloride is a salt as well as Sodium chloride (common table salt). I would sit down with my counties horticultural agent at the county Cooperative Extension Service office to discuss this soil test.
A soil test is a tool that can be of help to gardeners as well as commercial growers because it can guide the gardener and may save that gardener money. Advising that a soil test is unnecessary is bad information. Perhaps this link might be of some help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Why soil test


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RE: Soluble Salts

Thx for all you advice and yes it was from Ole Miss University. Was planning on seeing Ag person this morning. Will advise.


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RE: Soluble Salts

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 10:45

I grow blueberries, raspberries, and native perennials here in Madison, Wisconsin. My wife gardens, and she grows a wide variety of vegetables. My recommendation based on experience is that you submit samples of "typical soil, not amended," for testing. What you really need to do is learn as much as you can about the native soil in your yard. When you have a good sense of what the native soil contains, then you can amend as necessary for various specific plants that you would like to grow. The blueberries in the photo look OK to me.


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RE: Soluble Salts

"Salt is a chemistry term referring to anything with chloride in its name, so Potassium chloride is a salt as well as Sodium chloride (common table salt). "

It is correct that chlorides are salts, but salts also include anything with a cation an an anion, so everything from calcium phosphate to uranium metabisulfite can be called a salt. In soil, all the ions are floating around together, Ca, K, Na, Fe, Mg, nitrate, bicarbonate, etc.

In any case, the lab test does give a total level of all soluble salts. What I'm curious about is why your 3 tests differed so much in that one little row of plantings. Unless you used different amendments or different amounts in each hole that was tested, OR it was not mixed up well and you just got more or less in your sample of whatever had higher soluble salt content - likely a fresh compost of some sort. If that's the case I wouldn't worry about it too much, it will equilibrate over time.


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RE: Soluble Salts

Just remember:

How did agriculture exist before we have lab soil tests?


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Thank you folks for all your advice. I met with AG Agent this morning. She advised that the soluble salt is a total for all extractable nutrient levels. The reason for 3 tests was I have 2 plants in barrels on one side of house, 6 plants in the photo, and I planted a replacement about a month ago that Stark Bros replaced . So I tested barrels , the one new plant and the 6 I planted in photo. She advised that we have acidic soil already here in No. Miss. And that I should have just planted them and left them alone until next spring and fertilized then at bud break. and after harvest. Another one of my problems was, I mixed up the samples and couldn't remember which was which, so retesting to find out which one was 2.2 excessive salt and PH of 3.7 so we can correct. But the other 2 are great. adv. just to leave alone...thx again and will adv. after holidays when get soil report back again...:o))


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Yes , the tests were from University Of Mississippi


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Just dug holes in lawn, used 1/3 native soil, 1/3 peat most, 1/3 organic garden soil and a 5 gallon bucket of pine bark mulch and used little Honda 4 stroke tiller to completely mix it up.


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RE: Soluble Salts

  • Posted by lonmower zone8 Western Oregon (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 19:28

Greg...I advise both you and "Mastergardener" read Solomon's "The Intelligent Gardener"

I am no "master" but I think that testing the soil in a few locations where you are growing blueberries and especially adding peatmoss is not going to tell you much.

Soil tests are meant to average over a much larger area and there are specific regimens to follow to collect samples.


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RE: Soluble Salts

I will bring up an old post.


Posted by Masbustelo 5B Illinois (My Page) on Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 12:20

"The master gardener makes a very good point often misunderstood and ignored. In very healthy soils, say 5%om and higher ph is essentially irrelevant. The cat ion exchange capacity is what determines the availability to plants of nutrients. A cation (+) (pron.: /ˈk�t.aɪ.ən/ KAT-eye-ən), from the Greek word κατά (kat�), meaning "down", is an ion with fewer electrons than protons, giving it a positive charge. The positive ions are to simplify things "open to" or hunting for negatively charged particles. In soils the desirable negatively charged particles are the nutrients, these will chemically bond with the cat ions. The higher the organic matter, the higher the cat ion capacity of a soil, and the higher its ability to keep or maintain the nutrients in the root strata. With high organic matter soils pH becomes irrelevant because there is so much nutrient available at basically any pH that the plants will not have any lack of access and availability therein. Organic matter may be very low in plant nutrients, such as peat moss. Or organic matter may be very high in plant nutrients, such as compost and manures. So then determining factors in soil science regarding high organic soils is not pH, but, is there sufficient NPK etc. bonded to the cat ions?"

Lets look at-" In very healthy soils, say 5%om and higher ph is essentially irrelevant. "

That is why in my FIRST post I said to simply improve the OM(organic matter). ;)

Hope that science helps the OP.....

;)


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Eric has given you the useful advice: test your native soil, so you'll know how best to amend it, with the least effort.

MG1's idea that agriculture pre-synthetics was people adding huge amounts of OM to cropping soils doesn't withstand logic or a little reading, so indeed, ph mattered a great deal (as it still does). Sure, the cottage garden can be hip-deep in manure but the majority of calories in agrarian societies came from broad-field cropping, not gardens.


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Master Gardner- your info is very helpful, in regards to organic matter. In the tests I had done, my organic matter ranges from 20-30%. That's why the nice lady at AG office told me to do nothing and the microbes in our lovely Mississippi soil will consume most of it over time. I sent in a soil sample that is just 20 feet from my blueberries to see what the native soil shows. She said it should between 5.2 and 5.5. And she kind of put me on hold till I get the other samples back and she would help me get it right. It looks like after the plants have dropped their leaves now, they all have buds on the stems. I guess I'll just have to be more patient. I have included a copy of report...And the photos of the berry plants were shortly after I planted them in September. They are 4 yr old plants.....I really appreciate all your advice!!


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Unless one takes a good look at the soil one will not know if that soil is healthy or not and that includes a soil test for pH and major nutrients. It is known that imbalances of nutrients can be as bad as a lack of those nutrients.
Excess Phosphorus interferes with a plants ability to utilize Zinc, Iron, and Cobalt which although needed in quite small amounts are still essential.
Excess Potash can interfere with Nitrogen.
Excess Magnesium interferes with Calcium and vice versa. So a good soil test will not only tell you what your soils pH is but what the balance between the Ca and Mg is.
These are things that looking at your soil will not tell you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Why soil test


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A lot say these tests are very needed, and do this and do that, when-

The OP said the lady at the Lab said to do nothing, and the soil microbes will take care of it (salts, and ph for that matter)....Which is what I was suggesting....

Glad to see she helped the OP and put some light onto everything. Gardening is not as complicated as many make it out to be.

It says you have NO sulfur? Could that be true?


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Indeed, as the lady said, in a warm climate like MS, crude OM gets decomposed and "burned up" pretty fast. 20-30% is whoppingly high, much higher than all recommendations.

More interesting will be the stable OM % of your native soil, others known as SOM.


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I was told that it is .5%-thank you again for all your advice, wished I would have started this string earlier. Will advise after the holidays...You all have a great XMAS!


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.5 is very low, so the native soil needs good amounts of OM, just not nearly so much as you put in those planting holes.

Merry Christmas to you as well.


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TheMasterGardener1,if it wasn't for the soil test you would never know that there's something wrong with soil sulfur content now would you?


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Posted by ceth_k 11 (My Page) on Tue, Dec 17, 13 at 22:58
"TheMasterGardener1,if it wasn't for the soil test you would never know that there's something wrong with soil sulfur content now would you?"

I guess agriculture never existed before Lab Soil Tests?

BTW I was wondering if that was a miss print.....


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"I guess agriculture never existed before Lab Soil Tests?"

You keep saying this. It is unclear exactly what you mean by it, but in this thread it seems like you mean that before the testing of soil in a lab became common, it did not matter what the soil ph was, or what the levels of macro or micro nutrients were. This kind of reasoning is like thinking that before it was possible to identify an infection by testing a stool or saliva sample, it did not matter if a person had tuberculosis.

Before lab testing of soil, still crops behaved just as they do now. Before testing of soil, people commonly used lime, plaster, wood ash, etc on acidic soils. Why would that be?


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. "Before testing of soil, people commonly used lime, plaster, wood ash, etc on acidic soils. Why would that be?"

Because, again, they are asking much from the land. At a large scale they need to produce crops, with low organic matter in the fields. We can have high om in our gardens with a little physical work.


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While testing soils for nutrients has been around, now, for about 150 years it was not used much until about the 1950's for most homeowners. A soil test is one tool that can be used to aid the grower in a number of ways, something most reasonably intelligent people should want to do.
Yes, agriculture existed long before soil testing was known, although my grandfather and some uncles could "taste" soil and know whether it was "sweet" or "sour". However, in the days before soil testing yields were not as good as they are today with soil testing. Problems with disease and insect pests are, generally, greater if good soil management practices, including soil tests, are not used.


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" At a large scale they need to produce crops, with low organic matter in the fields. "

That is still today the reality of crop production, exactly as you are espousing for GM crops in the other thread. You are banging opposite drums.

Which is it, super-intensive biodynamic or bottom-line science-supported commodity cropping?


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"That is still today the reality of crop production, exactly as you are espousing for GM crops in the other thread. You are banging opposite drums."

That is what i am saying. With low om the ph becomes more of an issue. This is why the ph in hydroculture is very important .


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Just reading through this interesting discussion. I was wondering about the pH 3.7 sample. That sounds really acid! Sorry if I missed it - but did you figure out what sample that was, or what happened there?

Interesting to read your results and what you are doing with them.


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MG, I think I finally have figured out where you have gotten your strange viewpoint from:

since your only direct experience with raising food is your own biodynamic gardening on a tiny scale, you imagine that the only alternative to this is the super-scale factory farming. You imagine "organic" farming as a blown-up version of your little tiny efforts, so involving more compost than the planet could contain.

You need to take some tours of real sustainable food-prodcution systems. You need to see pigeon-peas growing as hedges (with no inputs), or sun chokes producing pounds of tubers with little or no inputs, and pole beans supported by them and producing beans, with no inputs.

You aren't aware of permaculture, and its role in saving us from for-profit food production.


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RE: Soluble Salts

I'm back folks and I got my new soil samples back. You'll have to forgive me , I'm just a novice. But trying to get it right with my blueberries. I discovered that in fact my native north Mississippi soil has a PH of 6.0 and I over did it greatly with the organic matter, but in time the organic will disappear with the micro organism's eating it up. And I'll try to answer a few comments. I took my soil samples too near the surface and since I side dressed each plant with a soil acidifier and organic cottonseed meal, much of that was concentrated in the top few inches of soil where I took my samples from. This time I went 8-10 inches down and got some fairly good results. My one Misty blueberry tested out at 4.7 for soil acid and all the recommended was the natural fertilizer in spring along with some 0-46-0 triple phosphate, the 2 plants in barrels tested at 5.5 soil acid and only recommend fertilizer in spring. Now the 6 pictured plants tested at 6.3 for acid, and they adv. its mostly due to all the organic matter I put in the soil mix when planting. And the side dressing of 1 cup soil acidifier and 1/2 cup cottonseed meal will kick the PH down to where it needs to be on 3-4 months, which will be just in time for spring. All 3 samples tested 0.3-0.6 in soluble salt. I really appreciate all the input that all of you have provided through out this forum. And I take it all to heart....!! But some of you guys get a little rough on here....lol Your all nice folks and really helpful....thank you...


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Thats great you were able to figure out the problem! I hope you will post what happens with your blueberries!


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Bear with me-I sure will . Just waiting for the AG lady to get back after the holidays to get a couple mins to talk to her about my last results. And yes , I'll let you know how they do in about 3 months. Think I should have talked to her first . would have saved a lot of research...Hope you all had a nice holiday!


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Hi folks, Back from the winter and promised to advise everyone on how my blueberries did. Its May 4th and they are all doing fine. And they all have blueberries on the. Not a lot but still quite a few. My plan worked and the advice I got from my extension office worked. Plant them in quite of bit of organic matter and a cup full of soil acidifier and my soil is right on the money. Just under 6.0 Most of it 5.7. If anyone has questions ,I'll be glad to let you know what I did in North Mississippi...Thx all of ya!


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2nd photo, closer showing some berries


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