Guest blog by Neal Kinsey
True science begins with observation, but in these times whose observations can you safely trust? Why not consider observing the basic requirements for improving feed production and nutrition for yourself, on your own land, and most likely for a lot less money than it costs for someone else to do it for you?
In seven years of randomized, replicated research on the Bradford Research Farm, University of Missouri/Columbia correcting soil nutrients based on the use of soil chemistry has been shown as a necessary influence before the soil has the greatest possibility to attain the necessary soil structure, and particularly the ability to hold needed amounts of water and air. Soil biology alone does not insure that needed environment—shelter, feed, water and air. All four must be adequately provided to encourage the proper abilities and activities of the living organisms for soil biology to thrive.
What farmer or rancher thinks their livestock can always fend for themselves and without any help provide the utmost in possible production and income? At times adequate feed, water or shelter can mean the difference between profit and loss, or even worse – life or death. Why would anyone consider needed livestock in our soil would be any different? Should optimum benefits provided from biological life in the soil be expected to provide the utmost results without the proper living conditions?
As an example, many farmers and ranchers have noticed that the use of products to stimulate soil biology, including microbial populations, only work best when sufficient calcium and phosphorous are present in those soils.
The clay particles in the soil are influenced by the effects of chemistry as well as by the effects of biology. Both need to be correctly considered and supplied. And because soil chemistry has a great influence on the amounts of air and water each soil contains it has a significant influence on all life in the soil. Air and water are the two most critical needs for all life to survive, including all life in the soil. These both need to be correctly supplied for the greatest benefits to and from the soil biology, beginning with the plant root and all those organisms that help support optimum plant growth from the soil. Soil organisms may live there, but they only thrive and achieve the best results under the environmental conditions that are best for them.
Researchers point out that the aerobic zone (as deep as a fence post will rot in each soil) is the most important environment for soil life and building humus. The term “aerobic” means relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen. In other words, it is the zone that has enough air to supply that need. The soil must have enough pore space to supply that needed air, otherwise what is needed for living organisms in the soil will come up short. How is this accomplished?
Correcting soil chemistry is the key to correcting soil porosity. When the pore space is as ideally provided for soil life as possible, this insures the best circumstances for the life in each different type of soil. First of all, it is the greatest requirement to assure the ideal proportions of 50% water and 50% air will fill the space provided from the proper porosity in each soil.
If you have too much porosity (open space) in the soil it will dry out too quickly and result in too much air in relation to water content. In such cases the soil dries out too quickly and moisture is lost that could be kept there longer for the plant. This is the case in sandy soils and other coarse type soils. But using soil chemistry to determine the nutrient holding capacity of such soils and assuring that the proper amounts of magnesium, potassium and sodium are present can help with such problems.
All three of these elements have different jobs for growing plants, but when it comes to soil structure, they all help in one certain way. All three when adequately provided to sandy soils cause the clay particles, or colloids, to disperse, or spread out which reduces the pore space in that soil and by doing it dries out more slowly and thus water stays available there for a longer period of use.
But in addition to dispersing clay particles in the soil, the correct amount of magnesium provides another advantage. Magnesium, due to its chemical makeup, attracts, and holds more water in the soil. Increasing the amount is a definite advantage in sandy soils, and minimizing the amount is a definite advantage in heavy soils that tend to have too much water.
On the other hand, if there is too little space in the soil, water will predominate, and the soil will lack an adequate amount of air. This happens in clay soils that have insufficient amounts of calcium, or too much magnesium, or potassium, or sodium. The effects of calcium on a soil has exactly the opposite influence that will be caused by adding magnesium, potassium or sodium.
Calcium causes clay particles to flocculate the soil. This means the clay particles will aggregate or clump up. And as the clay particles are pulled together in small “clumps” it increases the amount of space or soil porosity in that soil. Consequently, the calcium in needed amounts causes soils to “open up” due to increased porosity and water can flow more freely in that soil. It can get in faster and with adequate pore space it can wick back up for plant uptake more easily as well.
Therefore, soil porosity is not just there to supply air and water, it is the science that enables the soil to bounce back when the effects of too much water come from rainfall, flooding, etc. and extreme amounts of air when soil dries out from lack of adequate moisture. It provides resilience or the ability to make any needed adjustments more quickly once conditions exist to permit recovery. In other words, this is the key to helping soil adjust back to the most ideal conditions for the needed life there – to most benefit the soil biology.
The seven years of independent university research that has now been completed as randomized, replicated plots at the Bradford Research Farm at University of Missouri, Columbia show this to be true. This work has shown that the highest populations of microbes and the highest replacement of carbon, and very importantly, the highest yields and feed values, are on the soils that exhibit exactly the soil chemistry requirements that Dr. William Albrecht recommended as necessary for soils that would grow the best plants (both in yield and quality!) based on his work in the early- to mid- 20th century.
By measuring the needs of the land, using soil testing based on optimum mineral content as shown through soil chemistry, optimum feed value can be achieved and measured. This is accomplished by correctly measuring and providing each required mineral nutrient for meeting the needs of nutrient differences from soil to soil. This can be measured by soil testing specifically designed for that purpose in combination with normal feed testing to show the value that using this method can provide.
Independent consultants who have had the proper training and work with our company can do both the soil testing and recommendations and test the feed to show the results. Or have one of the consultants do the soils and you have the feedstuffs tested and evaluated before and after applying the nutrients shown to be necessary to reach the best levels for the needs of each particular soil.
And when you do so, be ready with answers to these three important questions.
- How much rainfall do you normally receive per year.
- How would you rate the productiveness of the soil you intend to use for this experiment?
- What is the greatest need concerning this land that you would like to solve?
Be your own scientist and learn the truth for yourself! To learn more about Neal Kinsey and Kinsey Agricultural Services visit: https://kinseyag.com/.