Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Baseline Soil Analysis

Scan of the Soil Analysis done by the National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension for the AC4D Trial and Demo Farm
In most respects this analysis shows a reasonable range of values.  Potassium and phosphorous (important nutrients for plant growth) do not need to be added chemically and soil acidity is very slightly above the normal range for a loam soil. 

However, the soil does exhibit very high electro-conductivity (EC).  This was not unexpected and in fact is representative of the Middle Ghor of the Jordan Valley.  EC reflects the amount of salt in the soil. A healthy range for plant growth being at or lower than 4dS/m.  The sample taken from our land shows about nine times the healthy range, 36dS/m.  High salt content is why this region of the Jordan Valley was chosen as our test site.  One of our main goals is to find ways to help small farmers to make better profits on salt affected land with the materials available to them.  This could not be done effectively on soil that doesn't have a lot of salt in it. 

A high level of salt in the soil is a result of a number of natural and anthropocentric factors.  Firstly, using drip irrigation doesn't provide enough water to draw salts down below the roots of the plants.  Secondly, saline water has been used in irrigation contributing greatly to salts being leftover in the soil after irrigation. Finally, rainfall has not been sufficient to soak the soil to the point that the fresh rain water dissolves the salts added during irrigation and then carries them down below the root zone where they do not affect plant growth. 

The main problem that a large amount of salt creates in crop production is to inhibit plants from being able to use the nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and key trace elements that are already in the soil and necessary for good plant health and in turn good crop production.  

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