Atleast one recent posting was a query concerning novel soil
testing methods that might be more appropriate for organic/low
I am working on the development of a "soil quality" quick test... my
advisor and are investigating assorted procedures that isolate and quantify
various fractions of soil organic matter that have a relatively rapid turnover
i.e. are active/labile... our ultimate product should be a new tool that
will help farmers/land managers evaluate the cumulative effects of their
management practices on "soil quality"...
However sustainable farmers also need soil tests that allow
scientific mangement of immediate crop fertility needs. I am wondering
about how low commercial fertilizer input farmers are making use of the
soil tests that are avilable today.
Today as I was reading through the soil test interpretation guide for
vegetable production in MD, I noticed that most vegetable recommendations
suggest annual applications of 50-100 lbs/acre of P or K even if the soil
test reading for that nutrient is in the high range. Most recommendations
also suggested sidedressing of fertilizer at some intermediate point in
the crops growth...
How do low input farmers make use of such soiltests/recommendations ?
If they want to augment soil fertility in the middle of the growing
season, what are their options...
U of MD, Agronomy