[Market-farming] kinsey ag

Allan Balliett igg at igg.com
Tue Feb 8 07:37:25 EST 2005

Marcy -

Here's what ATTRA says about state tests vs consultant tests:

>Most land-grant universities offer free or low-cost soil testing 
>services to farmers, gardeners, and landowners. The benefit of 
>in-state analysis is that fertilizer recommendations are calibrated 
>to soils in the region. These calibrations and associated fertilizer 
>recommendations have been determined through decades of field trials 
>at agricultural experiment stations.
>  The standard soil test - readily available through both land-grant 
>university and commercial labs - provides data on soil nutrient 
>levels (N,P,K, Ca, Mg) and a few soil chemical characteristics (pH 
>and CEC). These parameters form the basis of fertilizer and liming 
>recommendations. However, translating the results of a standard soil 
>test into useful  organic fertilizer recommendations is not a simple 
>matter. Most university soil testing labs don't provide practical 
>fertilizer recommendations suited to commercial organic farming.

Here's ATTRA's list of alternative soil labs: 
http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/soil-lab.html (interesting that it 
contains neither Jerry Brunetti nor Logan Labs. As usual, ATTRA is 
the place to START your research, but not a place to stop your 

I don't think that I stated this initially: Aside from the fact that 
they operate from different principles and different extraction 
methods (State labs operate within the NPK (chemical fertilizer) 
model and alternative labs tend to work within an organic trace 
mineral 'soil balancing' model), when you pay the higher alternative 
lab soil test fees, most of the alternative labs provide detailed 
analysis of what the tests mean on your soil and how you should 
approach balancing that soil in an economical fashion, for either NPK 
or organic management. Most of these consultants are charging $150 
and up an hour otherwise for consultation.

(Who saw a the results of a poll somewhere that said that 82% of 
farmers think that soil testing is essential to farming success, but 
only about 23% actually get them.)

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