FAQ’s Cesar Ramirez
Is a soil test really important? Cesar Ramirez
Soil testing is a tool and nothing more. Like any tool put to good use, soil testing is very beneficial. The Timberleaf Soil Testing Program emphasizes soil testing and cultivation practices. If you follow our recommendations, it should make a big difference in the results you receive for your efforts, whether you’re a mini farmer or home gardener.
I’ve read or heard that you can grow good crops without a soil test, is this true? Cesar Ramirez
This is absolutely correct. From the many soil tests we perform each year, we have found that generally one gardener or mini farmer in 50 has balanced soil nutrients. Even fewer have soil organic matter, soil oxygen, and soil moisture in balance. The majority of unbalanced conditions result from excessive applications of various fertilizers and improper cultivation practices. These factors can reduce crop quality and result in lower yields.
What do you test for? Cesar Ramirez
Our basic program includes the analysis of over 18 different areas of your soil, including organic matter and cultivation practices. Our trace mineral testing includes most all trace elements affecting plant growth. Optional and special testing is also available for individual specific needs. Please refer to our price list for specific services.
Can I purchase a home garden soil testing kit from my nursery and get accurate results? Cesar Ramirez
Most home soil test kits test only for soil pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Without knowing the calcium and magnesium levels in the soil, it is impossible to correct the soil pH without risking a calcium-to-magnesium imbalance. In addition, application of the wrong type of limestone could be disastrous.
How do your tests differ from other companies? Cesar Ramirez
In several ways. Many companies and universities provide testing that is limited to 4 or 5 major soil elements. Other organizations test much wider ranges. In either case, the majority of these organizations are concerned only with the quantity of chemical elements in the soil.
Timberleaf Soil Testing uses a unique whole-plant environment approach that takes into consideration the total factors needed for healthy plants. These factors include sunshine, soil organic matter, soil water, soil air, and essential plant nutrients.
Our comprehensive testing program includes analysis of all the major and minor chemical elements, plus one of the most important and often the most overlooked factors of plant growth – organic matter. Organic matter has a direct affect on soil structure and consequently, soil oxygen and soil moisture as well.
Is trace mineral testing necessary for growing healthy crops? Cesar Ramirez
Yes. It is not uncommon for most soils to be deficient in one or more of the essential micronutrients, such as boron, iron, or zinc. Trace mineral deficiencies can restrict the availability to plants of certain major nutrients, even when a sufficient supply of those nutrients is present in the soil.
How long will it take to balance my soil? Cesar Ramirez
This is entirely dependent on the present condition of your soil and how diligently you follow the recommendations given in your Timberleaf Soil Test Summary Report. Experience shows it can take nearly 5 years to bring soils up to maximum fertility. Generally, you can expect good balance within 3 years. You should begin to see significant improvements the first year and continued improvement thereafter. Soils cannot be completely adjusted in one year, particularly if your goal is permanent soil improvement.
What reports will I receive? Cesar Ramirez
You will receive a comprehensive report that summarizes the results of all lab tests and gives specific recommendations for:
maintaining or improving organic matter levels,
balancing of major plant nutrients and,
balancing trace minerals (if you have elected this option). In addition, you will be given complete instructions on how to easily carry out each recommendation, plus special instructions for follow-up testing so you can monitor your progress,
reclamation of soils high in soluble salts.
Each of our clients also receives a copy of our publication, Timberleaf Soil Testing – Supplemental Guide to Soil Management. This guide helps our clients better understand the information in their soil reports, plus it gives them a wealth of easy-to-understand information on soil fertility. It includes sections on such topics as organic matter, cation exchange capacity, soil pH, and soil nutrients.
The guide also includes a section covering topics that generate the most questions from our clients – tillage, soil drainage, and soil nutrients for fruit trees.
I have never tested my soil before and I want to grow organically. Should I test for heavy metal contamination along with the Basic and Trace Mineral tests? Cesar Ramirez