PH question

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Re: PH question

Postby Dave » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:11 am

A 6.3 to 6.4 is not a lot of difference. You will easily get that much variation within a field simply by taking your samples in different spots. I did the sampling on a study that WSU did on several dairies. They choose random sites in fields to get manure applications at differing rates. I tested those and then another site 20 or 30 feet away which wouldn't get the application. There were some huge differences in the results even before the applications occurred.
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Re: PH question

Postby Jogeephus » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:22 am

hurleyjd wrote:We had acid rain several years ago. The cleanup of the environment by the EPA may be working to reduce the acid in the rain. The PH level you witnessed may be the result of this cleanup.


Yeah and now they are proposing spraying sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere to mitigate global warming. Kind of fun to watch a cat chase its tail isn't it?
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Re: PH question

Postby M-5 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:35 am

Dave wrote:A 6.3 to 6.4 is not a lot of difference. You will easily get that much variation within a field simply by taking your samples in different spots. I did the sampling on a study that WSU did on several dairies. They choose random sites in fields to get manure applications at differing rates. I tested those and then another site 20 or 30 feet away which wouldn't get the application. There were some huge differences in the results even before the applications occurred.

I understand and figured as much , but all my life I was told to lime your hayfields every other year . The coop always pulled samples and did recommendation back then . And everyone is putting it out right now. It's just more of me trying to understand soil chemistry and why's of things.
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Re: PH question

Postby Jogeephus » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:46 pm

I'm not sure what type soil you have but I'd guess its very similar to mine and is basically a sandy loam. If yours is the same then it is what's sometimes called a highly weathered soil and though we have plenty of limestone (calcium) in our soil its not in a form that is available to the plants. However, like I mentioned earlier, this non-useable calcium can be broken down and made available so drought or heat could release it. However there is a lot of chemistry going on so you can't just say its this either but it could be. Could also be the result of moisture conditions or a few other things.

Another thing that is easier to visualize is the buffering capacity of your soil. Weathered soils such as sandy loams tend to have a low buffering capacity. The easiest way to visualize what all this means is to picture a bicycle tire versus a tractor tire. A tractor tire would be a soil with a high buffering capacity and the loss of one pound of air would go unnoticed whereas the loss of a pound of air from the bicycle tire would be seen immediately. Transferring this thought to your soil and with your soil being a loam and having a low buffering capacity you would expect to see changes in the pH more readily than a soil with a higher buffering capacity. These changes can be due to a host of chemical reactions going on in the soil and trying to figure out exactly what's going on would only give you a headache.

A low buffering capacity can be a blessing or a curse. The blessing is that it is easy to amend but the curse is its more unstable and subject to change due to environmental factors or other things. Your goal should be to have a well balanced soil with a high buffering capacity. This can be done but it takes a lot of time and understanding of all these little things that effect your soil's chemistry and structure. The most common suggestion is to add organic matter. This is an over simplification of what's going on but its often suggested without really understanding what's going on. As mentioned, your soil is most likely what's called I a heavily weathered soil so much of the nutrients which help create the buffer are washed out of reach of your plants roots. I'm sure you are familiar with seeing the old timers turning their land. This practice would reach down and pull these nutrients in the buffer zone up to the top where the plants could use them and the crops would do better. However, if your soil is like mine and is heavily weathered and this turning practice has been done for eons then you have a plow line where the plow couldn't go any deeper. Beneath this layer the buffering capacity is most likely higher because all the nutrients have been washed into this layer and they are essentially stored and out of reach. To see how this can effect your grass all you need do is take your front end loader and dig up some of this soil beneath the plow line and spread a scoop of this somewhere in your pasture and within a year you will see a huge difference in the grass color and growth in this test spot. Not only will it be greener and more lush but it will be more drought tolerant and pH stable.

Another thing worth mentioning on soil buffering is there are some snake oil products out there which advertise using minute amounts of this rather than conventional fertilizer or manures. What some of these products can do is mine the buffer from your land just like the turning plow did which is akin to your just digging your grave deeper and not what you need and is only a short term fix can which can hurt your land if done to much. You want to save this reserve and address fixing the 18 or so inches above this layer.

In my view its best to add as much natural organic matter and nutrients as possible just like you are doing with the clover and such. Though you may not see the benefits immediately you are doing what is right for the land and helping yourself in the long run by creating a well balanced soil. You need to also have the awareness that certain chemicals can effect the chemistry or the organisms that help you build your organic layer and your soil's buffer. Sadly, this won't be easy because you are surely correcting many years of soil neglect but I think you are on the right path by trying to figure out what's going on in your soil because soil is after all the foundation of your cattle operation.

Sorry for the long post and I'm sure I've got a few things oversimplified but this is how I look at things. Hope this helps and hope it didn't give you a headache. :lol:
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Re: PH question

Postby M-5 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:31 am

Thanks JOE ,
My soil is 1 on the CEC rating (sandy) <4.6 , I analyzed last years report vs this years and comparing the 2 . I noticed that in 17 the calcium was H 1106 and this year its still high at H 676 . there was a reduction in all elements which I would expect because of removing the hay from the fields. I can only assume by fertilizing according to test I have improved the efficiency of the soil and it is using the nutrients that are available .
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Re: PH question

Postby Jogeephus » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:24 am

I think you are right in your thinking. I'd also watch the tests closely for a while because I found that I was using up potassium faster than what the soil test told me I should so I ended up increasing the potash by 10% to hold it steady.

With your addition of the clover I think you will see soon begin to see a layer of organic matter building up between the mother plants in the T85. This layer appears thin during the winter months but during the warm months it seems to grow. My layer is now around three inches thick during the summer and is as rich as potting soil. My hope is that this layer will continue to grow and fill in the 18" plow layer and will increase the buffer of the soil.

I've also done the same by planning sacrifice areas for hay feeding. I did this by fencing off a ten acre area that contained my poorest most sandy soil and fed hay there for several years. This soil is no longer a sandy loam but a loamy sand and is extremely stable and fertile. I plan on fencing off another sacrifice area and repeating. The benefit of this is I haven't added anything to this acreage in 15 years and its producing a lot of forage with no inputs and as long as I don't cut hay on it and I only graze it the soil tests show it is remaining stable and all the nitrogen it gets is coming from the clovers (crimson and dutch white) and rainfall.
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Re: PH question

Postby pdfangus » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:17 pm

Jogeephus wrote:There are so many things that could make this happen it will make your head hurt trying to figure it out. Just so many combinations from sampling differences to the method used in the lab and like Dave said it could have to do with the time of year because the amount of root respiration and the breakdown of organic materials can affect it especially if your soil has a low buffer capacity.

Since your pH increased and if I remember right you had some drought conditions last year my guess is you got the pH bump from the weathering of cabonate parent material. This typically happens during hot dry conditions and is more evident on soils having a low buffer capacity such as sandy soils but the longer you keep it in pasture and the more organic material you add to the soil the less fluctuation you will have in the pH.


thanks Jogeephus....
this is pretty much the answer I was going to give.
holistic management and the return of organic matter to the soil will create a healthy community of life underground that also contribute to good soil health.
giving the plants time to put good roots deep in the soil is also a factor.
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Re: PH question

Postby Texasmark » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:44 am

Funny, I was born in Houston and grew up in the area fighting the effects of Blackland Clays (Houston in particular). Tried and tried to get to the Piney Woods, and some acid tilting, tomato growing, sandy loam soil but for one reason or another didn't make it.

So here I am on my farm of 40 years still in Houston Black Clay with it's slightly alkaline PH. Does make for soft water and no plumbing streaks and I do like that. Hot water heater electrode usually is wasted in 6 years and that wastes the HW heater...can't get the old one out.

I guess my clay isn't all that bad after all as long as I work it as "it" wants to be worked, not as "I" want to work it. It doesn't need PH adjusters and if planted with the right crop, makes for fine summer/dry weather growing.....reason for the "Cotton is King" era.
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Re: PH question

Postby ddd75 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 6:51 am

its like 18 / ac spread here..
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Re: PH question

Postby bball » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:33 am

ddd75 wrote:its like 18 / ac spread here..


$50/ac spread here today. Sure jumped up in price from 2 years ago.
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Re: PH question

Postby bball » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:11 pm

bball wrote:
ddd75 wrote:its like 18 / ac spread here..


$50/ac spread here today. Sure jumped up in price from 2 years ago.


Check that, $24 per ton spread.
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Re: PH question

Postby rockroadseminole » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:43 pm

Jogeephus wrote: Another thing worth mentioning on soil buffering is there are some snake oil products out there which advertise using minute amounts of this rather than conventional fertilizer or manures. What some of these products can do is mine the buffer from your land just like the turning plow did which is akin to your just digging your grave deeper and not what you need and is only a short term fix can which can hurt your land if done to much. You want to save this reserve and address fixing the 18 or so inches above this layer.


Do you mind expanding on this a little more? Friend of ours has had incredible results with a snake oil product. They have not used any conventional fertilizer or lime since 2010. They also started rotational grazing around this time and that must be a contributing factor. They do apply a small amount of the snake oil each year and spread Clover. We pulled some samples and put our first application on a test pasture this fall. Will pull samples again in April to compare. We’ll see.

How does this mine the dirt any differently than conventional methods? Not contradicting you, just confused.
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Re: PH question

Postby Jogeephus » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:21 am

rockroadseminole wrote:
Jogeephus wrote: Another thing worth mentioning on soil buffering is there are some snake oil products out there which advertise using minute amounts of this rather than conventional fertilizer or manures. What some of these products can do is mine the buffer from your land just like the turning plow did which is akin to your just digging your grave deeper and not what you need and is only a short term fix can which can hurt your land if done to much. You want to save this reserve and address fixing the 18 or so inches above this layer.


Do you mind expanding on this a little more? Friend of ours has had incredible results with a snake oil product. They have not used any conventional fertilizer or lime since 2010. They also started rotational grazing around this time and that must be a contributing factor. They do apply a small amount of the snake oil each year and spread Clover. We pulled some samples and put our first application on a test pasture this fall. Will pull samples again in April to compare. We’ll see.

How does this mine the dirt any differently than conventional methods? Not contradicting you, just confused.


The short of it is you cannot just take from the soil and not give back. I'm speaking more about hay land than pasture since haying takes so much from the soil. Pasture is different since cattle really don't take much of anything from the soil and replace nearly everything they take with their manure. I don't fertilize pasture land because I prefer slow steady more nutritious growth rather than a quick flush of growth then it becoming rank and less nutritious.

Before you go whole hog with the "snake oil" try some band strips in your pasture with it and see just how long it actually affects the grass compared to non sprayed. Like most all foliar feeds you will probably see a two week flush in color. Next time try spraying just some liquid iron chelate which will cost you about $0.50/acre and compare the results of this to the snake oil.

We use a lot of foliar feeding here on vegetables and it does do some good but it is in no way a replacement for fertilizer its just more for eye appeal and finishing.
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Re: PH question

Postby rockroadseminole » Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:31 pm

Jogeephus wrote:
rockroadseminole wrote:
Jogeephus wrote: Another thing worth mentioning on soil buffering is there are some snake oil products out there which advertise using minute amounts of this rather than conventional fertilizer or manures. What some of these products can do is mine the buffer from your land just like the turning plow did which is akin to your just digging your grave deeper and not what you need and is only a short term fix can which can hurt your land if done to much. You want to save this reserve and address fixing the 18 or so inches above this layer.


Do you mind expanding on this a little more? Friend of ours has had incredible results with a snake oil product. They have not used any conventional fertilizer or lime since 2010. They also started rotational grazing around this time and that must be a contributing factor. They do apply a small amount of the snake oil each year and spread Clover. We pulled some samples and put our first application on a test pasture this fall. Will pull samples again in April to compare. We’ll see.

How does this mine the dirt any differently than conventional methods? Not contradicting you, just confused.


The short of it is you cannot just take from the soil and not give back. I'm speaking more about hay land than pasture since haying takes so much from the soil. Pasture is different since cattle really don't take much of anything from the soil and replace nearly everything they take with their manure. I don't fertilize pasture land because I prefer slow steady more nutritious growth rather than a quick flush of growth then it becoming rank and less nutritious.

Before you go whole hog with the "snake oil" try some band strips in your pasture with it and see just how long it actually affects the grass compared to non sprayed. Like most all foliar feeds you will probably see a two week flush in color. Next time try spraying just some liquid iron chelate which will cost you about $0.50/acre and compare the results of this to the snake oil.

We use a lot of foliar feeding here on vegetables and it does do some good but it is in no way a replacement for fertilizer its just more for eye appeal and finishing.


Thanks for clarifying! I smell what you're stepping in now. Curious to see what kind of results we get. We sprayed a 40 acre pasture with it, and left a strip right down the middle. Also, another pasture, untreated, is adjacent to it so should get a good look. We applied 2 qts in the fall and are supposed to reapply 1qt this spring. As of now, i can't see a real difference. Should see change in soil samples and should get a difference in grass growth as things heat up. Figured we would try it for a year... we shall see.
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Re: PH question

Postby Jogeephus » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:12 am

rockroadseminole wrote:Thanks for clarifying! I smell what you're stepping in now. Curious to see what kind of results we get. We sprayed a 40 acre pasture with it, and left a strip right down the middle. Also, another pasture, untreated, is adjacent to it so should get a good look. We applied 2 qts in the fall and are supposed to reapply 1qt this spring. As of now, i can't see a real difference. Should see change in soil samples and should get a difference in grass growth as things heat up. Figured we would try it for a year... we shall see.


You will probably see a difference for a little bit. Foliar feeding has its place but what I have a problem with are some of the salesmen have wild claims about its effectiveness. One of my neighbors was a distributor and tried to get me to use his product and claimed at a cost of $6/acre would do the same as conventional fertilizer. He gave me a few jugs of his product and told me that some of my neighbors swore by it and were all using it. After talking to them I learned he had given them the same spill and that was using it and I swore by it. We all had a good laugh over this but not wanting to miss I did give it a try and applied it in bands with control strips between it. The sprayed strips did green up but this was very short lived and after looking at the ingredients I figured I could accomplish the same thing with iron at a cost of $0.50/acre but this is short lived as well.

Where I think it has its place is if you use it within two weeks of cutting your hay. Just like with produce foliar feeding will give a short burst and increase photosynthesis which will increase sugar production thus enhancing the eye appeal and nutritional value. I think it might be useful where you have a crop of hay that you haven't been able to cut due to weather conditions and is going backward. A shot of this stuff might boost the food value of an otherwise sorry hay cutting. May not, but I don't think it would hurt. Just can't see using it in place conventional fertilizer.
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