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TOPIC: Troubling Soil Test Results

Troubling Soil Test Results 8 years 6 months ago #36775

Hello everyone!
I am a new to this site and am hoping to get some advice from the experts. I have read Scott Person’s book and some other literature so I have a good idea of what to look for in growing sites. We are looking to do the wild simulation method.

We have access to 200 acres in North Western PA which slopes 10-20 degrees in the due North, has a good mix of 30” dia. hardwoods (mostly maples) and is scattered with rattlesnake ferns and Christmas ferns. I gathered 5 soil samples spaced evenly throughout the property and had a reputable lab run a standard soil test. The results do not look good. All 5 samples have around the same numbers, but below is an example.

Total Exchange Capacity (M.E.): 4.62
pH: 4.2
Organic Matter Present: 7.05%
Phosphorous: 74 lbs. per acre
Calcium: 161 lbs. per acre
Magnesium: 33 lbs. per acre
Potassium: 64 lbs. per acre

My questions are:

1. Is it possible that I receive inaccurate results since I only dug 3 inches down and in 1 spot only per sample?

2. Is it even possible, or recommended, to try and treat the soil to what is needed (i.e. gypsum) if the calcium is this far off? We are looking to do the wild simulation method.

3. What would be the best way to gather soil samples for accurate results?

Person’s book claims that, if the environment is right, then the soil can be corrected with enough determination and persistence. Other sources say that if the calcium levels are below 1000 lbs./acre to look elsewhere.

Any help would be much appreciated!


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Re:Troubling Soil Test Results 8 years 6 months ago #36788

Welcome to the forum, PawoodsTeam1!

I', not too sure if I own \"expert\" status, just an interested engaged grower. Having said that, I will say that there is quite the gathering on this website of folks that are VERY good with our favorite herb.

I will attempt to answer your Q's, and I am sure that others will chime in...

Those soils test results are enough to make you look at the options...

However, the soil can be amended if there is close proximity to getting the amendments in there. In other words, hauling the many bags of gypsum needed is going to be problematic if your sites are 'way in there. Your soils analysis should have a recommended value for estimating the amount of amendments needed. This is usually in PPA, or something similar.

Your pH is low, and you will need to address that as well. Granulated lime is available for that, however prices vary wildly, so look for the best deal. Also true for gypsum. Most of that stuff comes in 40 or 50 lb bags, so you can see why getting those into a very remote site is problematic.

A \"north-facing\" slope is good. Not too sure what you meant by when you write \"in the due north.\"

Innacurite results, if done by a qualified lab, shouldn't be a problem. Most labs check things pretty closely. However if you contaminated your samples with other dirt from other areas, then you would have a false reading.

Most local State Ag offices are staffed with good coaches for folks that are interested in gaining knowledge on how to get soil samples, and how to amend. Some states, like here in NC, even offer free soils analysis testing to the residents of our state.

good luck, and please keep us posted on how things are.

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Re:Troubling Soil Test Results 8 years 6 months ago #36863

Far from expert here as well, but being your pH is so low you can use lime dust for your calcium source and save some cash, while bringing up the calcium level. You could still use some gypsum as well as the pH may get too high by using only limestone dust to amend it to the levels you need for seng. The pH is very doable as is, so you sure don't want to bring it up much. If your user name is accurate and you actually have a team it may not be so hard of a project. The lime dust gets delivered by dump truck loads to the farms around my area so it must be cheap.

Apparently you never even see a piece of limestone in your soil in your area. Almost too high of calcium levels here, but that in turn raises the pH to nearly out of ginseng's preferred levels. Pros and cons. I would amend some and plant a few pounds of seed and see how it goes.

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Re:Troubling Soil Test Results 8 years 5 months ago #37038

No expert but, did plant a lot in my day.
My advise is to experiment with amendments to the soil, but first try a quarter pound of seed in a few different spots companion plants are growing. If the forest is mostly maple the calcium should be there.

I've had good luck in conditions like this.


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