Correcting the Cause of
The most limiting factor to successful agricultural production is soil compaction. While most farmers correlate compaction to be a result of traffic from heavy equipment and/or excess rainfall, they are simply experiencing a symptom of a much larger underlying cause. Soil compaction is caused from the soil colloid (smallest particle of the soil) losing its electrical charge.
Soil colloids are electrically charged particles with both an internal and an external charge. The internal electrical charge holds the colloid together. The external charge holds on to minerals—in particular cations. When these cations surround the colloid, they too also carry an electrical charge. The colloid “grows” in this way. At the central core is the colloid and surrounding the colloid is a “cloud” of cations (+) and anions (-). The ratio and/or balance of cations and anions surrounding the colloid is critical, because while two “naked” colloids cannot group or aggregate together, the cloud of cations and anions surrounding the colloid allows the individual colloid to bridge together with other colloids, creating a soil aggregate.
The Magnet Comparison
The soil colloid is similar to a magnet. If you were to try and split a magnet in half between the positive and negative poles, you would end up with two new magnets each with a positive and negative pole. Splitting the magnet would NOT result in a separate positive pole and a separate negative pole. Splitting the magnet, in farmer terms, refers to management practices which degrade the electrical bonds of the cloud surrounding the soil colloid. Commonly these may include excess salts, sodium, sulfates, potassium and/or magnesium from either fertilizer inputs or poor water quality, as well as the overuse of pesticides which carry salt based inactive ingredients. When these management practices occur in overload, the soil colloid—eventually—becomes so weak that they collapse creating many dispersive soils. The magnets are split into many smaller tiny magnets which are easily carried by wind and water. Dispersive soil colloids erode easily. They collect in our waterways, polluting our aquatic systems as well as collapsing the soil structure which we rely on to grow our crops. The electrical charges which once held the soil colloids together into aggregates is lost and each individual colloid begins to collapse forcing all oxygen—the key building block of all life—out of the soil
Most Limiting Factor
Compaction is the most limiting factor to successful agriculture, because as the soil colloids disperse, soil biological activity stops. The plant expresses a lower nutrient use efficiency, reduced water penetration, increased micronutrient deficiencies and a compromised immunity. We often fall into the trap of reacting to the symptoms of compaction with micronutrient foliar sprays, increased irrigation, increased nitrogen inputs, and an overall reliance on chemical pesticides to produce the crop. All of which continue to disperse soil colloids and cause compaction. Reacting to symptoms only inhibits us from ever correcting the cause.
Addressing the mineral balances surrounding the soil colloid is first step to correcting the cause of compaction. Available calcium is king when it comes to balancing the soil colloid “cloud”. Why? Because available calcium is 40 times more electrical than copper. What does that mean? It means, that when available calcium dominates the soil colloid “cloud” each individual colloid exhibits enough residual electrical charge to bridge together surrounding colloids. Creating a soil aggregate. Once the colloids are grouped together, atmospheric gasses are allowed to enter the soil. Increasing the soil’s interaction with the atmosphere introduces oxygen into the soil system creating a habitable home for beneficial soil microbes.
Some may argue that soil microbes are the key to correcting compaction. These microbes produce glomalin. Glomalin is a poly saccharide—carbon—excreted from soil microbes, in particular mycorrhizal fungi. It has been observed that Glomalin is extremely important in the dynamics of the soil system, however, it is not the first step in soil aggregation. The mineral balance surrounding the soil colloid must be initiated in order to start the soil aggregation process, especially when working with compacted soils. Soil biology needs oxygen to survive. Without oxygen, soil microbes cannot produce glomalin therefore the soil cannot create an aggregate. Oxygen is created, when the cations and anions surrounding the soil colloid are dominated by available calcium. Once this is achieved, the soil colloids begin restructuring and creating pore space. Microbes are now able to proliferate, grow, and exude glomalin. Further promoting the aggregation of soil colloids and the creation of soil health. The successful implementation of ANY biological farming program begins with step one, available calcium. If you do not address the underlying cause of the problem, you will be forever reacting to symptoms.
Soil Conditioning/Dormant Program
The following are general recommendations for reducing soil compaction, improving water penetration, alleviating excess magnesium and potassium, and improving the overall structure of your soil. THESE ARE GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS it is important to work directly with the Soil Works staff and/or with a trained Soil Works distributor to correctly diagnose your field. Every farm, field and soil type are different, please contact us directly to provide you with the optimum program for your operation. Application rates may vary depending upon your penetrometer readings.
90-120 grams GSR Dormant Calcium
2-4 lbs Pure Cane Sugar
2-4 lbs Micronized Soft Rock Phosphate
2-4 gallons Fish Fertilizer
10-15 gallons Bio-5 Soil Conditioner
- Product is intended to be applied post-harvest mixed with water at a minimum application rate of 20 gallons/acre. MORE WATER IS RECOMMENDED. Optimum efficacy is achieved when soil applied and immediately followed with irrigation or before precipitation.
- Direct soil contact is recommended. Enhanced efficacy is achieved when the soil is tilled to a depth of one inch below the aerobic zone or following vertical tillage.
- If applying over a layer of dense mat of crop residue, the products efficacy may be reduced. As the residue decomposes the products applied may be utilized for residue decomposition rather than soil remediation. Multiple dosages may be required as well as increasing the amount of water applied with the product which can help the product reach the soil. Please consult directly with the Soil Works staff before application.
- Application rates vary based on needs of the individual field or soil type. High CEC soils with excess Magnesium and/or Potassium require higher rates for optimum efficacy. Please consult directly with a trained professional for customized application rates.