[permaculture] Fwd: [SANET-MG] Fertilizer and soil testing

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Mon Dec 13 00:01:28 EST 2010

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [SANET-MG] Fertilizer and soil testing
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2010 23:51:14 -0800
From: Mary-Howell & Klaas Martens <kandmhfarm at SPRINTMAIL.COM>

Joel and Michael,

Thank you both for posting your well thought out and important ideas on soil
testing, fertility, amendments, and crop nutrient density.

I don't have any answers to add here, I'm a fellow student of soils.  I find
that each question I find an answer to opens up still more and deeper

I would like to add an observation I've made to this discussion.  The old
'masters', 'visionaries', whatever we call them, Steiner, Howard, Balfour,
Viosin, Albrecht, etc. etc.  connected soil with health by the direct
observations that they each made.

They first observed patterns in the health (or lack of it) of people and
animals and then tied them back to the soil that their food grew in.  They
then tested the crops and the soils that supported them to try to understand
how they were connected.

Albrecht's 'ratios' have been cussed and discussed for years by people many
of who did not understand what Albrecht actually believed and taught at all.
I think the same is true for all of the other old scientists who's work I've
studied.  Albrecht himself never talked about 'ratios' of nutrients.  He did
teach that he found the soils where animals and people were exceptionally
healthy, all had very similar proportions of minerals when compared to their
total mineral holding capacity.  He actually taught that having the right
'ratio' of any two minerals but at the wrong levels was of no benefit
whatsoever.  His contribution to the big picture was a deeper understanding
of how the different minerals affected each other's availability to crops.

Steiner said that his preps worked by 'organizing' minerals so that they
were more available to the plants.

I think the idea that simply throwing on more of what is short in a soil
test is overly simplistic and does not accurately represent what the early
visionaries discovered or taught.  Often minerals are deficient because some
other mineral is in excess.  Some minerals are deficient when they
themselves are in excess.

Our soil tests are only crude attempts at finding out what minerals are
available to plants in any given situation.  If soils have great biological
activity, then small mineral deficiencies will not make a big difference in
the crop as long as they have some of the mineral that is deficient.  With
certain fertilizers, tissue levels of some minerals can be excessive even
when the soil test is showing a severe deficiency.  (I have documented this

Soils don't always respond to fertilizer applications the way we would
expect them to.  I don't think soil is a 'black box' but it is certainly not
at all like a balance sheet either.

I believe that there is no doubt that mineral dense crops produce healthy
people and animals.  I just don't believe we know how to reliably grow
mineral dense crops.  At least not reliably.

Discussions like this will get us closer to that goal if we come to them
with an honest desire to learn.  Please keep working at it.  Some day we
will get there.


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