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Re: [NAFEX] Clay,gypsum,cobalt
I have been considering amending my clay hill apple orchard with gypsum
but wonder how to apply it. Considering clay's nature I would think that
a surface application, say a ton per acre, would never get down into the
clay to do its work. I would think it would have to be worked down deep
with heavy equipment prior to planting. Can surface application work?
I think surface application can work....just not very quickly Wet clay,
being a large percentage water by volume, is actively worked by the
freeze-thaw cycle. It is also "worked" by dry-wet cycling. Note the
cracks that show up in clay when it dries. These mechanisms are pretty
much free of charge or effort on your part.
A third mechanism is that some plants will punch through the clay with
fleshy roots. Those roots provide active transport channels as they
decay and bug life chews their way down. These biological mechanisms do
require some effort and intelligence on your part. Examples: Planting
appropriate cover crops. Adding organic matter to feed the soil life.
You need to know that I am a lazy person. I am a disciple of
Scattergood Baines. I would take $99 out of the ATM rather than $100 if
I could, simply so I would not have to move my finger so much. So I am
very much inclined to error on the side of easy-does-it. Bear that in
mind as you read.
Some of what you do depends on how things are growing for you. I would
respond differently if my trees were dying as opposed to living and
growing but not thriving. Dying trees demand more drastic, invasive
action. Failure-to-thrive means you can be more incremental in your
approach and maybe make minor adjustments in your orchard management or
use what you have learned about rootstock choices when making replacements.
Like Mr. London, I don't know if aggressively incorporating gypsum is
the best choice. Clay tends to be rich in aluminum (one of the LMs).
Aluminum becomes soluble at lower pH, that is, more acid soils. Gypsum
is CaSO4 (calcium sulphate) and tends to lower pH. As a point of
reference, alum is AlKSO4, or aluminum-potassium-sulphate and it reacts
with protein enough so that it is used to tan hides into leather.
Bacterial life has protein cell walls.
Secondly, during the last Nafex conference a knowledgeable grower
strongly recommended cobalt as the solution to breaking up clay.
Cobalt is a *trace* nutrient essential for the bacterial synthesis of
one of the B vitamins. I suppose that adding cobalt in extremely minute
quantities would be a good thing if you had absolutely no cobalt in your
soil. However, it strains the imagination to think that Minnesota
weather is aggressive enough to leach all cobalt from the soil the
glaciers gnawed off the Precambrian shield a mere 10,000 years ago.
Besides, cobalt is very expensive. Nobody has enough money to use it as
a commodity agricultural chemical. Del, I know you are a mechanically
inclined kind of guy. You could probably get enough cobalt by brazing
an M-42 HSS drill bit to one tine of your rototiller (attempt at humor).
no idea what level of application, and would not want to over appply.
Does it work with ions as well, or some other mechanism?
My personal web site: http://my.voyager.net/~jhecksel
"We are only here for a short time. So let's make it a good time."
-Cary Dye 1958-2002
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