Folks, It is time to get your winter garden stuff together. Get your soil tested free and apply amendments now while the earth is inhaling. Pay attention SWC and Fuckfinger. I'm here to help you.
Here is the third installment lifted from Yahoo Soil & Health
and his blog @ http://thenewagriculture.blogspot.com/
of Michael Astera's take regarding mineral density and more.
Pay close attention to his ratios. Better yet, buy his book.
All the soil consultants keep you on their payroll year after
year. A little math and chemistry here and you can kiss the
consultants good bye.
Severly Truncated. Exceeds 15,000 characters. See his blog.
I'm looking forward to his interpretations of Phil Callahan's
paramagnetism and his Biodynamic overview,
Part III The Recipe
Assuming that it is possible to grow crops with great flavor, high
levels of nutrition, excellent keeping qualities, and a high resistance
to disease and insect attack, how does one go about doing it? Obviously
it starts with the soil.
Astera's Dictum v1.0: Food of high nutritional quality can only be
grown in a fully mineralized, biologically active soil in which energy
is flowing or being released.
Biology, i.e. living organisms and their remains, has been the focus
of "organic" growers since the 1920s, more especially since the 1950s,
and is the only aspect that most "organic" growers have any knowledge
of or experience with so far. For most of the this time, the emphasis
was on adding more organic matter to the soil in the form of compost
and manure; only in the last fifteen years or so has the emphasis
shifted more towards the living soil microorganisms, what the popular
buzzword calls the SoilFoodWeb.
Worldwide, the valleys of the great rivers were the cradles of
civilization, simply because of the wide assortment of essential
minerals in their soils. A few other places approached or matched that
level of fertility, such as the Great Plains of North America, the
Chernozem soils of the Ukraine, and the Loess areas of China and the
Mississippi Valley. All were the result of either a fortunate
combination of rocks from which the soil formed, or windblown dust from
large areas, or both.
Of course ancient and even modern people knew nothing about the
mineral makeup of their soils; they only knew that some areas grew
crops that brought health to people and livestock, some areas didn't.
The knowledge of mineral elements and chemistry as a science didn't
exist until the late 1700s; the first chemical assays of crops and
soils weren't done until the 1830s, and the Periodic Table of the
Elements wasn't put together until the late 1800s. Furthermore, despite
over two centuries of advances in the fields of chemistry and
nutrition, very little knowledge of the mineral basis of soil fertility
or nutrition has filtered down to agriculture.
Our goal should be to match or exceed the fertility and mineral
balance and availability of the great breadbaskets of the world, so
let's get to it.
I'm going to start here with how I grow high-brix nutrient dense
crops. There is at least one other method that deserves mention and we
will touch on that.
The method I use is largely based on the work of William Albrecht and
Firman Bear in the 1930s and '40s in the USA. The essence of it is the
Basic Cation Saturation Ratio or BCSR. Note first off that this BCSR
idea is neither appreciated nor recognized by mainstream chemical or
organic agriculture. That need not concern us overmuch as long as it
works, right? The Basic Cations that we are talking about are Calcium,
Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium. They are called 'basic" because
adding them to a water solution makes the solution more alkaline or
"basic". They are cations because they have a positive charge, a +
charge. Ca and Mg have a double plus charge ++, K (Potassium) and Na
(Sodium) have a single plus + charge. Those elements with a negative -
charge are called anions.
Done? Good. Now that everyone is familiar with CEC, we can talk about
the BCSR and how to mineralize or re-mineralize our soils. First of all
one needs to have the results of a standard soil test that gives them
the % saturation of the four major cations Calcium, Magnesium,
Potassium, and Sodium presently in the soil, as well as the total CEC
(Cation Exchange Capacity) of the soil. Here are some examples of the
results of a standard soil test:
What we (ideally) want to end up with are the following cation
H+ Hydrogen 5%-10%
This will give us a well-balanced mineral base to start off with, and,
with the anion ratios listed below, a pH of ~6.5 to 6.7.
The major anions are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sulfur, and Chlorine. Here
is how they should fit together with the cations above:
Phosphorus should be equal to Potassium (actual P=actual K), which
means phosphate (P2O5) should be 2x potash (K2O).
Sulfur should be 1/2 of Phosphorus, up to around 400 lbs per acre.
More is usually not needed except in soils that start out alkaline,
i.e. pH greater than 7.
Chlorine should be equal to Sodium, and not more than 2x Sodium.
Nitrogen will generally take care of itself for most crops if the soil
organic matter content is 4% or above. Some N loving crops like corn
(maize) or onions may need some supplemental Nitrogen.
Boron: 1/1000th of Calcium, but not more than 4ppm (parts per million)
or 8 lbs per acre.
Iron: 100-200 ppm (200-400 lbs/acre)
Manganese: 1/2 of Iron, but more than 50ppm is not necessary.
Zinc: 1/10 of Phosphorus
Copper: 1/2 of Zinc
The other twenty or so essential minerals are only needed in very
small amounts, usually 1 ppm or less. Standard soil tests don't check
for them. They can be supplied with any or all of the following:
Seaweed (Kelp meal is pretty commonly available)
Various mineral deposits from ancient lakes, seas, or volcanoes
Rock dust from quarries or rock crushing operations.
(these would all be applied at a rate of about 400lbs/acre or 10 lbs
per 1000 sq ft))
All of the above is explained at some length in my book The Ideal
Soil, along with how to calculate amounts to apply and which
organic-approved mineral sources contain how much of what. Those
interested can check it out here:
http://www.soilminerals.com/Ideal_Soil_Main_Page.htm There are a number
of books about WHY to mineralize the soil, but so far The Ideal Soil is
the only book that shows the reader HOW to mineralize their soil. (If
anyone knows of any other how-to books on soil mineral balancing, let
me know and I will gladly list them.)
Quite a bit to take in at once, but what we have covered here will
work for almost any food crop in any climate. There is no need for
special formulas for special crops, no need to worry about pH. This
mineral balance, combined with a biologically active soil with around
4% humus, along with sunshine, warmth, and water, will provide all that
is needed to achieve good to excellent Brix readings, great flavor and
keeping qualities, and a high degree of resistance to insects and
disease. We are also working on the assumption that it will provide
excellent mineral nutrition, as all of the essential minerals are
available to the plants, but that has yet to be proven. Our proposed
project will be to prove the concept, correlating high Brix with high
minerals, in order to establish the world's first nutritional standards
It doesn't seem that I have room left in this not-so-short post to
cover everything else I mentioned at the end of Part II, so I will just
give a brief mention to the other school of mineral balancing, the
Reams school, and wait to talk about the economics and ecology of these
ideas in part IV.
Carey Reams (1904-1987) was a somewhat eccentric scientist,
agronomist, and Christian mystic who worked mostly in Florida USA. The
rule mentioned above that actual Phosphorus should equal actual
Potassium, or phosphate should be 2x potash, originated with Reams.
Reams is also who we have to thank for bringing the refractometer into
use in general agriculture. The Brix chart he devised is still
considered the gold standard for food crops. Here it is again:
Reams did extensive work with energy flow in soils, and came up with
some ideas on the roles of energy and minerals that haven't always
translated well into modern scientific terminology. Nonetheless he
achieved great results and some of his students have gone on to teach
and practice his methods very successfully. Unlike the standard soil
test mentioned above and used by Albrecht and most mainstream soil
testing laboratories, Reams preferred the LaMotte test, which uses a
weak extracting solution, closer to that which plant roots themselves
employ in the soil. The Reams system is not based on the BCSR, but on
the measurement of readily soluble major nutrients in the soil. The
mineral ratios that Reams called for, however, are essentially
identical to the CEC saturation ratios of the BCSR. Here are Reams'
ideal soil mineral amounts, as available nutrients per acre, based on
the Lamotte soil test:
Calcium: 2,000-4,000 lbs
Magnesium: 285-570 lbs
Phosphate: 400 lbs
Potash: 200 lbs
Nitrate Nitrogen: 40 lbs
Ammonium Nitrogen: 40 lbs
Sulfate: 200 lbs
Sodium: 20-70 ppm