The Elaine Ingham Challenge

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
I'd say they a very broad guide to P, K and pH potential. They still have a place.

so many variables though - even the difference in solvents used by different labs and solvents are acids determining available nutrients where as all we have is water ?

I bet you could take a tissue test in the morning and another in the evening from plants next door to each other and get different results
 

Richard III

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
CW5 Cheshire
Nothing wrong with them as long as you recognise that they are only a snapshot in time and over time will give you a trend. I certainly think OM levels are worth monitoring.
I also think that provided you try to raise OM by whatever means it is fairly easy to quickly spot ( by the no of worm casts ) when nature is taking it's course and it's safe to assume that the soil is starting to work for you ( also confirmed by yield maps ). Don't get me wrong I have no intention of going organic.
30 odd years of making hay on pp has given me a fair idea about what would happen in Dr Ingham's example. It's probably as close as an analogy as we're likely to see. I find that pp that is weened off fert yields drop to about 10-20% of fertilised yield in the first few years. After a few years yields increase to about 60- 70%. If on the rare occasion I fail to make any hay I just leave the crop to rot ( same effect as applying compost ) and the yield will increase a couple of years later by about another 10-20 %. Applying a fungicide will lift yields by up to 20%. If I put fert on, after a long time without it, yields rocket to 200% of a normal fertilised yield but will quickly drop back to a normal yield in a few years time. As I have more grass offered to me than I can cope with, not applying fert and accepting 60-70 % yield is an economic solution for the hay ( it also makes easier ) however, for me, it's not an option on an arable crop especially as your fixed costs are the same whether your wheat yields 2.5t/acre or 4t/acre.

My one time neighbour used to do similar with hay, only you had to bale your own as he was too busy in the local bookies. :whistle: From looking over the hedge, I would have said the hay yields were similar to yours. After hay making, a few sheep would wander around, but a lot of vegetation would be returned directly to the soil.

The farming model was more successful than people expected and it lasted for quite a few years, but eventually his landlord did persuade him to leave. (n) This was a few years ago, before I had heard of the Soil Food Web and I expected the soil to have very low indexes and be acid. This wasn't the case, I saw the soil analyses that were taken and they weren't too bad.
 
so many variables though - even the difference in solvents used by different labs and solvents are acids determining available nutrients where as all we have is water ?

I bet you could take a tissue test in the morning and another in the evening from plants next door to each other and get different results

Put it this way -if your land is crucially lacking in one element as things stand that soil test will generally let you know about it. I can accept that P becomes more available with biology etc. but for practical reasons if you were to take on land and the soil test showed a P status of 0 or 1 I think it would be worth putting some artificial or fibrophos on to get things going.


I do think that once you get to a certain level then you can maintain the nutrient status' with a mix of no till, soil biology and recycling nutrients etc.

I think the tissue test is quite a good guide to alert basic problems - For example if I did a tissue test and the plant showed low P or K or N I'd be unlikely to react much to it as it is going through the growth stages but if I knew the soil reserves were reasonable and my soil biology/OM was in the direction of improving (no till, covers, animals, FYM) then I reckon I'd be doing as much as was practical to supply the macronutrients although I probably should keep adding sulphur. But the tissue test my be capable of pointing out a micronutrient issue that I was not aware of that may give a relatively minor difference to yield or something that I can correct in the future - but its probably not hugely important to do a tissue test- millions of farmers don't.
 
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Honest john

Member
Location
Fenland
With the EU banning increaseing numbers of pesticides. We may have to join this road to production.
So we had best start learning fast.

Plumbo would say the teas have been superseded by products that are less hassle for the farmer.

What ever we may think it is looking like many of the trusted Funicides will be removed from the market.

John.
 
so many variables though - even the difference in solvents used by different labs and solvents are acids determining available nutrients where as all we have is water ?

I bet you could take a tissue test in the morning and another in the evening from plants next door to each other and get different results

Why don't you try just for interest. I might.
 
With the EU banning increaseing numbers of pesticides. We may have to join this road to production.
So we had best start learning fast.

Plumbo would say the teas have been superseded by products that are less hassle for the farmer.

What ever we may think it is looking like many of the trusted Funicides will be removed from the market.

John.

I went to a Frontier meeting today at Duxford and it's interesting to see a lot of the ideas that have been discussed on here making it to the mainstream. Cover crops are definitely being picked up and pushed now, the same with companion cropping in rape as Kings get their noses in. A new phrase emerged too - "resistance elicitors" which appear to be products designed to make / allow the plant to use it's natural defence mechanisms. I didn't ask what the nature of these products are (i.e. biological or synthetic chemistry), but in the light of increasing triazole resistance and the possibility of them being banned I think it may be the first appearance of Plumbo like products appearing as mainstream products. No yield response seen in wheat but there was in rape.

I had to stop grinding my teeth though as they totally ignored which results were statistically significant or not (like autumn N on rape which TAG says has no significant yield effect). The Soyl chap went on for ages showing lots of pretty pictures and then finished with what should be the headline claim that variable N put yields up by 3%. However, absolutely no indication of the Least Significant Difference figure and hence whether or not the result meant anything. When asked what the figure was he barely even understood the question, let alone knew the answer.
 

Colin

Member
Location
Perthshire
The above few post just reinforce how pointless soil and tissue testing is !

Results change more than the wind ! How do you even try to hit such a moving target ?

I guess Dr Ingham would say that's why you need the soil to supply everything though these biological relationships as needs change constantly ?
I think soil tests are ok when there is a definite deficiency to catch it before you sow a crop.
On the tissue tests I did several on carrots last year to try and see if we are making a difference and the tissue test repeatedly showed low K so we banged on more but it didn't show up in the tissue test of the leaves, so we tested the actual carrot and the k was there. Therefore you have to think about what crop it is when testing and where those nutrients are being partitioned to. Tried a few tests on cereals and they just showed low Mn and Mg so now we will just bung these on as routine, I already put lots of Mn on anyway just need to add Mg.
 
I think soil tests are ok when there is a definite deficiency to catch it before you sow a crop.
On the tissue tests I did several on carrots last year to try and see if we are making a difference and the tissue test repeatedly showed low K so we banged on more but it didn't show up in the tissue test of the leaves, so we tested the actual carrot and the k was there. Therefore you have to think about what crop it is when testing and where those nutrients are being partitioned to. Tried a few tests on cereals and they just showed low Mn and Mg so now we will just bung these on as routine, I already put lots of Mn on anyway just need to add Mg.

I think this is very sensible approach
 

York

Member
Location
D-Berlin
I think soil tests are ok when there is a definite deficiency to catch it before you sow a crop.
On the tissue tests I did several on carrots last year to try and see if we are making a difference and the tissue test repeatedly showed low K so we banged on more but it didn't show up in the tissue test of the leaves, so we tested the actual carrot and the k was there. Therefore you have to think about what crop it is when testing and where those nutrients are being partitioned to. Tried a few tests on cereals and they just showed low Mn and Mg so now we will just bung these on as routine, I already put lots of Mn on anyway just need to add Mg.
It's all about relationship and when one is too much a other will be to little.
natural products:
Why you think Monsanto & others are buying up companies working in that field? On of the majors just build a factory near Rostock soely on purpose to produce various biologicals. They are totaly awyare that the time of "Chemestry remidation" is nearing it's end.
One of the kex managers of one of the top 3 Manufacturers in plant protection said, when I asked them why they are not afraid when we get the soil in better shape so they will sell less fungizide the following: "WE will take care of that we will always have our share on a ha"! And I bet you they are doing. I see it already in their product range happening. Quick learners I call that.
Kind regards from California. What a joly training we have with all the fellow mates from all over the world.
York-Th.
p.s. strongly disagree about the point that monitoring fields with soil samples is a waste of time. But what can you expect from a bugger like me ;) on this topic......
 
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York

Member
Location
D-Berlin
It's about knowing your soil, if you always need Mn I would think that will continue, same for everything else.
Colin,
I rather quote a farmer down south. He explained it this way: "If I get with my car of the road with the front wheel I have to take a drastic action in getting back on, but if I don't reverse this action at the right moment I will end up on the other side of the road also off the road."
I think that is the best explaination. It's like using compost, there is a place for it and also a place for high rates. It can be very benefitioal but also harmfull when it's overdone, overused etc..
Only what you can measure you can rely base a decision on.
What I see with people like Dr. Ingham is that they are getting tooo much focused on one aim. Having been on the seminar of Neal Kinsey and visited some very high productive farms, intensive, and updating with a number of farmers & practitioners I only can repeat: "The minerals are building the house of the biology" and not vice versa.
All soil life needs air & water and just go back to your university books on soil science and look up how the ideal soil is described.
Greetings from California. Tommrow we are starting our ride back to the Missisippi by car.
York-Th.
 

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