Fertilizing, not all it's cracked up to be?

RopeShield

Well-Known Member
Already did aeration and vertical mulching but soil and foliar analysis indicate alkaline soils- not suprising- and definitely low in nitrogen so want to show we can turn them around some. Need to get the client to trust me enough to remove the $50 000 in stupid rock and replace with mulch.

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kids can't break windows with mulch, they will have to replant with rock/ph specific species. looks like limestone
I would suggest they get in contact with a consultant and get a hort report on the landscape design and get after that loss of money 1st and then move on to doing what is right.
 

Timber1972

Member
I already did the consult. Owner is proud of the fact he paid so much for rock and landscaping. It is a status symbol in that neighbourhood. I am working on getting him to remove it and as time goes on to replace with appropriate soil, mulch etc. We are in prairie clay and in zone 3b so we don't have lots of choices for trees. I am doing more and more soil amendments but the backwards nature of our landscapers makes it so I have a hard time selling such a high cost procedure.... particularly after spending 100k for crap landscaping.

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ATH

Well-Known Member
Already did aeration and vertical mulching but soil and foliar analysis indicate alkaline soils- not suprising- and definitely low in nitrogen so want to show we can turn them around some. Need to get the client to trust me enough to remove the $50 000 in stupid rock and replace with mulch.
Aeration is pretty pointless when there is landscape fabric significantly reducing gas exchange between the soil and air above....
 

NorCalBrock

Well-Known Member
A lot of things to consider:

Nitrogen is water soluable - any N you add - chemically or organically - will be affected by natural or unnatural watering.

Certain clay soils are not necessarily a bad soil - it locks up P and K much better than other soil types because of its electronic charge, platelets, and has more moisture availability than others types of soil.

It just requires different irrigation practices.

Addition of compost in the first couple of inches of the root zone after light air spade, in my opinion, can - depends on analysis of quality of compost and how long it was hot then maintained ideal temperature - have benefits for trees that need - such as nitrogen, beneficial bacteria, and mycorrhizae.

Aeration of the first couple of inches with an addition of a mixture of loam and compost will improve the soil porosity and give it a shot of nitrogen.

Compost tea only adds N - it hasn't been proven to do anything else - UC Davis will not recommend it in their urban forestry or master gardener literature because it has not been scientifically verified to do anything other than add N.

Cut the fabric back to the recommended drip line, aerate, add loam, compost, and mulch... make sure to adjust irrigation.

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JD3000

Most well-known member
Compost tea (aerated) adds far more than N. The organic feedstocks such as fish hydrosolate, kelp extract, P source of choice, humates etc do provide a small, though statistically significant amount of nutrient, including secondaries and micros. Feed the soil not the plant. If forest soil or a decent commercial innoculant are added just before application, mycorrhizea may provide some benefit as well though they dont survive long without a host or in the aerated bath.

If you're talking a straight up compost extraction, then nutrient levels are only at what were to be found in that given volume of compost along with its associated humic substances and microorganisms. Not much nutrient at all which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Most mycorrhizeal species don't survive the composting process.

Bacteria, protists, fungi, and nematodes found in the soil abd compost are largely beneficial and most of the nasties are killed off in the thermophilic stage if composting though one does need to regulate what goes in. Ours is plant and topsoil derived, no manures other than the potential for some critters to do their business in the compost yard.

Again, if we can't sell a large bed expansion and appropriate understudy plantings, I try to add at least some of the benefits of what said mulch/compost bed would have provided. Dealing with trees in turf in the burbs.

No arguement about mulch beds being better, just saying it can be a good thing when done right.
 

NorCalBrock

Well-Known Member
Compost tea (aerated) adds far more than N. The organic feedstocks such as fish hydrosolate, kelp extract, P source of choice, humates etc do provide a small, though statistically significant amount of nutrient, including secondaries and micros. Feed the soil not the plant. If forest soil or a decent commercial innoculant are added just before application, mycorrhizea may provide some benefit as well though they dont survive long without a host or in the aerated bath.

If you're talking a straight up compost extraction, then nutrient levels are only at what were to be found in that given volume of compost along with its associated humic substances and microorganisms. Not much nutrient at all which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Most mycorrhizeal species don't survive the composting process.

Bacteria, protists, fungi, and nematodes found in the soil abd compost are largely beneficial and most of the nasties are killed off in the thermophilic stage if composting though one does need to regulate what goes in. Ours is plant and topsoil derived, no manures other than the potential for some critters to do their business in the compost yard.

Again, if we can't sell a large bed expansion and appropriate understudy plantings, I try to add at least some of the benefits of what said mulch/compost bed would have provided. Dealing with trees in turf in the burbs.

No arguement about mulch beds being better, just saying it can be a good thing when done right.
I'm not a compost tea expert - but this is the information we are getting from UC Davis in a nutshell.

https://www.gardenmyths.com/compost-tea-does-it-work/

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evo

Well-Known Member
I'm not a compost tea expert - but this is the information we are getting from UC Davis in a nutshell.

https://www.gardenmyths.com/compost-tea-does-it-work/

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I’ve read quite a few studies on the subject. They do seem to be all over the map. However this is a new science for the most part and we understand very little. We (should) all know that much of the commercial products are mostly dead by the time you go to brew. As well as how it’s brewed, travel time, and many other factors. The other point is there are so many variables they cannot be fully controlled.

Sure blasting the soil with a airspade, adding native forest soils, humic matter and a redesign of the planted landscape is best. However at times we are limited to what we can do, not what should be done even if endorsed.

When done right, it’s a tool in the kit. Perhaps it’s not the best option but better than no option. Besides Americans love to spray shit like a hippo everywhere.
 

Timber1972

Member
So the guy will spend $50g on rock but when I quote to fertilize 24 of the trees with the drill hole method because broadcast fert will get us nowhere with all that rock he has problems with the price including 5 trees with obvious SGR issues. I think he would rather just replace trees every couple years. Utterly ridiculous. People just want sterile environments and expect to have trees grow. And the freaking landscapers sell this $**t and make off like bandits. And we try to incorporate the best we can bit the trees are screwed from the start and really are left to try an put a bandaid on it. Fertilizer is only so good. Adding in organisms and organic matter regardless of what method you use (because really the only stuff we know pseudoscientifically has had the big corps see a way to make money and sink $ into marketing studies) is what we are left to do. Jaded much I am!!!

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NorCalBrock

Well-Known Member
So the guy will spend $50g on rock but when I quote to fertilize 24 of the trees with the drill hole method because broadcast fert will get us nowhere with all that rock he has problems with the price including 5 trees with obvious SGR issues. I think he would rather just replace trees every couple years. Utterly ridiculous. People just want sterile environments and expect to have trees grow. And the freaking landscapers sell this $**t and make off like bandits. And we try to incorporate the best we can bit the trees are screwed from the start and really are left to try an put a bandaid on it. Fertilizer is only so good. Adding in organisms and organic matter regardless of what method you use (because really the only stuff we know pseudoscientifically has had the big corps see a way to make money and sink $ into marketing studies) is what we are left to do. Jaded much I am!!!

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Not all landscapers ;-) - he got ripped off and it is a shit design. I got an idea - lets do grey river rock and $1500 in in grey boulders that get lost in the river rock - and don't get me started on the plant choice.

From the picture of just the front - no more than $5000 in matetials. $45,000 in labor!

Here is the problem - people want "no" maintenance and request it all the time. I tell them, if you want NO maintenance, do all sealed concrete with plastic plants but you'll still need to spray it once a week with DDT and agent orange.

To some people, tree care is no more than mow and blow - many do not see it as a highly skilled trade.

Same with highly skilled landscape design and build - many expect mow and blow quality.

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evo

Well-Known Member
So the guy will spend $50g on rock but when I quote to fertilize 24 of the trees with the drill hole method because broadcast fert will get us nowhere with all that rock he has problems with the price including 5 trees with obvious SGR issues. I think he would rather just replace trees every couple years. Utterly ridiculous. People just want sterile environments and expect to have trees grow. And the freaking landscapers sell this $**t and make off like bandits. And we try to incorporate the best we can bit the trees are screwed from the start and really are left to try an put a bandaid on it. Fertilizer is only so good. Adding in organisms and organic matter regardless of what method you use (because really the only stuff we know pseudoscientifically has had the big corps see a way to make money and sink $ into marketing studies) is what we are left to do. Jaded much I am!!!

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Right there with you. I’m learning to walk way and shake my head, to much waisted time trying to convince to the ones who will never get it. Trust building it one of the hardest aspects of our jobs. Hold tight to the ones who trust you to do right and don’t gouge them.

I started a fairly well bid job toady, then pulled the plug, I felt that we needed to reassess the job. Lost all profit for the day, but did what was right. It was all smiles and we came up with a game plan that involves a three year maintenance cycle, which will make much more over the long run. Time well spent to me!
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
Correct, very little is known of the soil and OM microorganisms save for a few genera and species. Most won't grow in culture so what their actual role is unknown. More study needed and is being performed.

Worst case scenario, one is injecting ir soaking in some labile and particulate recalcitrant OM to feed the bugs that are already there. Humic substances alone are remarkably important.

Academics...bleeeech. Well, some of them at least. Chalker-Scott is particularly obnoxious and condescending. Of course adding compost and mulch is better Linda, we cant always do that save for occasionally top dressing some lawns with very fine compost.

Ask her what she thinks about using reduction cuts sometime...
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
much of the commercial products are mostly dead by the time you go to brew. As
Thats why you use activated compost and forest soil.

Most products with bugs suck but Sanctuary may be a good one as wet bags grow mycellium pretty quickly.
 
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JD3000

Most well-known member
Her literature review on the benefits of mulching and OM should be required reading. I just really dont like her tone in other writings.
 

Matt15194

New Member
I don't post here often and this is my first time posting in this section so I will give you my back ground. I hold a bachelors in Citrus production, minor in horticulture production, and business management. I am also a certified crop advisor with a South East certification. I am also considering working to get my certification as a soil classifier. Long story I have spent most of my life working with soil and trees though focused on more agriculture then hort. Some of my knowledge and experience is relevant here so I will my knowledge might be worth what you paid

My take on products that contain soil fungi microbes etc is most are utter snake oil. Your soil will already contain the maximum population of these it is capable of supporting all on its own. Applying this type of product may show a short term increase in microbial activity but it will be short lived because there is no long term food source for these increased populations. In order to support an increased population most microbes need a diet of carbon or sugar. Sugar is why some of these microbe products are applied with molasses. The problem is that after this is used up the population will rebalance with what the soil can support. In thought if you were working with a sterile soil there might be some benefit to applying microbes to help restart the biological soil life but it most likely limited.

I do fully agree that the application of mulch, compost etc can be great for soil health as this serves as a long term carbon source which can sustain higher microbial activity over a long term. Most of these products will increase the humic content of the soil over time. Humus has a very high cation-exchange capacity which essentially increases the soils ability to hold, retain and exchange nutrients. IN commercial agricultural tree crops I am currently testing some synthetic humic and folvic acid products to see if we can get an economic yield increase.

In reference to the above pictured rock that is not lime rock. Lime rock will be white. Another consideration id regards to the PH affect of lime rock is to consider the aggregate used in concrete when landscaping. Example don't plant acid loving plants around a house foundation containing lime rock for aggregate

In reference to mulches be aware that pine bark mulch has some issues that need to be noted. Pine bark will bind up nutrients (fertilizers nitrogen, etc) and limit there availability to trees. Pine bark will acidify soil and is used in commercial blueberry production for this purpose. Furthermore pine bark mulch at lease in the deep south lasts much slower degrading then other mulches. I am not against pine bark mulch but felt these characteristics relevant to the current discussion.

Hope this helps and I am not getting to scientific here
 

JD3000

Most well-known member
LCS is obnoxious and resents all non-academics. Fuck her.

Limestones can be grey here. Due to some impurities here I bet but limestones nevertheless.

Root exudates and decomposing roots and thatch does provide at least a bit of a C source, though not nearly as much in a mulched situation but perhaps the humic fraction and the particulate OM in my brew provides some more. More study needed for sure, but I feel there is some benefit.

No molasses or other simple carbs, add more complex fungal foods. If some beneficial bacteria survive, great.




No one likes my bugs huh? I can live with that I guess but can offer my personal anecdotal proof/observations that my brews are helpful on some trees.

Now, is it possible that all my soil bugs didn't survive to provide any benefit and that the positive results are due to the things that went into it? Possibly, though the nutrient levels are very low and I would bet that a great deal of natural chelation occurs due to all the humic and fulvic acids from both the compost and the added product. The studies I've seen using any bio stimulants said that any positive results were difficult to trace back due to all the ingredients in them. Fair enough.

I think that my point is still eluding some. If we can't do bed expansions or installations or any other soil remediation projects...what are better alternatives to soil improvement and enhancing the rooting environment???

That question isn't too specific but I feel that the answer is not pumping more salty brine into the soil.

Real life situations many of us deal with day to day: Acid prefering trees are chlorotic (Fe or Mn or whatever), soil and tissue tests confirm all blah blah blah, soil is compacted, alkaline, possibly alkaline-calcareous, long long history of conventional fertilization...including the lawn which gets 5-6 apps of salty goodness too. Soluble salts are testing highly as well due to maintenance history. HO won't do the bed work and you find trunk injecting and foliar fertilaztion to be band- aids at best.

Soil injecting chelates? They can work ok, Fe EDDHA is particularly quite good in the above soils but this usually has to be performed annually so it's not sustainable.
Mn chelates are notoriously shitty in higher pH soils though I have seen some benefit to their use but, again, annual applications required to see some green-up.

I can again offer my own anecdotal evidence that strong rates of some humic products alone, or in combination with chelates, provides a damn good green-up in these situations.

This observation led me to dumping the chelates and inorganic salt fertilizers in favor of using the organic/bio-stimulant/humates/ soil and compost bugs route. So once again...if we can't try to replicate and forest soil system via the addition of mulched OM....is my method providing a good alternative to provide at least some of the benefial soil characteristics found in a forest soil system???
 
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marlinspiker

Well-Known Member
Rather than the thought process of introducing "bugs" we should be thinking of creating the ideal habitat for the native bugs to thrive. Test the soil and determine nutrient deficits. Address accordingly. Fertilize where needed. Invigorate compacted soils, backfill with compost and biochar.
 

NorCalBrock

Well-Known Member
Just going to stir the poo pot a bit and drop this here..
http://www.theruminant.ca/blog/2018/3/15/e96-a-critique-of-compost-tea
I have yet to listen to it. While I respect Linda Chocker-Scott I am not a fan of her dogma. I do feel that she has done great strides on arborist mulch, but for the most part we already knew that. I could rant on and on but I will turn the floor over to the wolves
LOL...Poo Pot.... salacious...stepping into 50 Shades of Brown territory.

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