Author Topic: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients  (Read 1983 times)

JonathonForester

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Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« on: June 17, 2016, 09:36:50 AM »
Hey All,

I've always been nervous about fertilizer and under/over fertilizing. I know this is a pretty basic question since most of you have long since experimented and learned and lost, loved, and seen what works best. What are some great resources for getting acquainted with fertilizing? What are your go to books? How did/do you learn about soil building. I know the obvious answer is books, experience, searching the web, local  agricultural extensions, ect. I need to dive deeper and I'd like to start with some recommendations. What are some things you've learned potted vs in the ground? Any specific anecdotes for west coast Florida? I'd kind of like a place for all that in here, When I searched the forum I didn't find a dedicated thread. I know I'm asking a lot and if another thread exists, sorry.

Oh Great Fruit Masters, Guide Me!

                                         Or throw me a bone :P


Saltcayman

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Re: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2016, 12:18:40 PM »
Hi, great question and I don't consider myself an expert but I have found what works for me. Fertilizing and soil building are two different ways to feed your trees. In general, I work on soil building as a long term approach to both feeding and correct nutrient imbalances in the soil.  Start with finding out what kind of soil you have by getting a soil analysis done.  Mulch, mulch and more mulch is a good idea for tropical soils which decompose organic matter quickly .  Rather than add a mixed fertilizer with all macro and micro nutrients, I just add the nutrients my soil analysis calls for. The mulch you use will provide plenty of nitrogen in the long term and buffer high ph soil. I add zink, boron and sulfur, which also helps to lower soil ph.  Mulch will also create humid acid which is also good to lower ph and promotes plant growth.  Some people do foliar fertilizing by spraying on a regular basis which is a way of getting nutrients to trees Growing in high ph soils. Too much work for me:). Read, read and read. I have found a lot of great information online searching "tropical permaculture". And of course, this forum is an incredible resource👍🏼

JonathonForester

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Re: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2016, 04:20:07 PM »
Any books you recommend on soil building? I've been look at a few to get but haven't run the card yet :P

Cookie Monster

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Re: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2016, 04:43:14 PM »
Soil building is actually pretty easy in terms of skill / knowledge required: Find yourself a tree trimmer who will dump his mulch at your residence. Then completely cover your entire yard in 8 to 12 inches worth (keeping it away from the trunks of your trees). Continue to do this once every 2 years. In 6 - 8 years, you'll have a thick layer of black compost laden with earthworms and other beneficials. This is actually what I did :-). The difference is dramatic, but it takes a few years.

No matter how well you build up your soil, though, you will still need to address nutrient deficiencies (barring something extreme like importing a thousand cubic yards of volcanic soil from central america). Organic soil tends to tie up some nutrients, manganese probably being the most problematic. And, you will need to supply potassium in one form or another in order to get good crops of sweet fruit. (I use sul-po-mag for this.)

But, step 1 is to determine what soil you have via a soil analysis.
Jeff  :-)

Saltcayman

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Re: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2016, 10:22:23 AM »
Any books you recommend on soil building? I've been look at a few to get but haven't run the card yet :P

Here is a link to a detailed description of one soil building approach.  But, as Cookiemonster said, dumping woodchips on a regular basis will work very well.  https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/no-dig-gardening/

greenman62

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Re: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2016, 03:15:14 PM »
i am a fan of wood chips also
i also have some plants that need to be pruned on a regular basis
to let light in etc... i use that biomass as mulch too.
this provides a diversity of plant types,
and a diversity of woody-to-herbaceous plants

a thick mulch layer is a great spot for worms which work tirelessly
for no pay at all, producing fertilizer
and aerating the soil too.

the other day i had lifted up an old bit of newspaper i had laid down
to prevent weeds. i had added some grass clippings, papaya leaves and woody mulch as well.
when i looked underneath, it was absolutely alive with movement.
springtails, worms and several small critters bouncing about.
all producing a waste stream, all getting eaten by something larger etc...

i could see how a rain event could trickle down and bring a lot of nutes
down to the root area.

Pan Dulce

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Re: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2016, 06:47:09 PM »
Hopefully this helps.......... this is the current book I am using for class

Plant Nutrition and Soil Fertility Manual
J. Benton Jones, Jr.
2nd Edition CRC Press ISBN -978-1-4398-1609-7

Its around $70 on either Amazon or Abesbooks.

These are other books that were recommended to me and could be cheaper:

Agnew, M.L., N.H. Agnew, N.E. Christians, and A. M. VanDerZanden. 2008. Mathematics for the Green Industry. John Wiley & Sons Inc. Hoboken, NJ.

Epstein, E. and A.J. Bloom. 2004. Mineral Nutrition of Plants: Principles and Perspectives. Sinauer Association Inc. Sunderland Mass.

Glass, A.D. M. 1989. Plant Nutrition. An Introduction to Current Concepts. Jones and Bartlett Publishers Inc, Boston. ISBN 0-86720-080-4

Marschner, H. 1995. Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants, Second Edition. Academic Press, New York.

Mengel, K. E.A. Kirby, H. Kosegarten, and T. Appeal. 2001. Principles of Plant Nutrition. Kluwer AC Pub., Boston.

Reed, D.W. (ed) 1996. Water, Media, and Nutrition for Greenhouse Crops. Ball Publishing, Batavia, IL.

Whipker, B.E., J.M. Dole, T.J. Cavins, J.L. Gibson, W.C. Fonteno, P.V. Nelson, D.S. Pitchay, and D.A. Bailey. Plant Root Zone Management. North Carolina State University. (www.nccfga.org (Links to an external site.))
« Last Edit: June 26, 2016, 07:10:06 AM by Pan Dulce »

JonathonForester

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Re: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2016, 08:56:56 AM »
Thanks all, these looks like some good places to start!

dmouthhog

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Re: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2016, 10:54:01 AM »
Really great recommendations and information, thanks guys! 

Can anyone recommend a good soil testing kit? 

Cookie Monster

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Re: Learning about Fertilizer and Soil Nutrients
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2016, 11:16:59 AM »
Don't use a soil testing kit. They are extremely inaccurate. Use a lab for soil testing. Cost for a quality lab like Spectrum Analytics is under $20.

Really great recommendations and information, thanks guys! 

Can anyone recommend a good soil testing kit?
Jeff  :-)

 

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