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Re: ACRES observations
Hey, it was Carey Reams who used the terms
anionic and cationic in a different manner than
common usage in chemical textbooks.
But so what, Carey Reams was a clairovoyant
medical doctor and chemistry genius who became an
ecofarming advisor to raise nutritionally sound
produce for humans.... since conventional produce
had gotten so poor.
One of the large farms in California reduced
their pesticide bill by half a million dollars after
adopting the Reams fertility program.... since
the Reams approach pays close to attention
to healthy plants. I doubt the farm manager
worried about terminology that "conformed", eh?
Neal Kinsey was a student of William Albrecht
at Univ of Missouri, and thank goodness because
Kinsey can teach the Albrecht soil test calcuations and
explain the Albrecht soil fertility approach better than
Don Schriefer has two books and they
provide an excellent overview of the ecofarming
approach to soil management. "From the Soil Up"
and "Agriculture in Transition."
Gary Zimmer's book is really good, "The Biological
Farmer", so are the booklets from Midwestern Bio-Ag:
"Crop Pests and Fertilizers - Is There a Connection",
"Roots - The Hidden Half".... so is their soil fertilty
manual that explains Albrecht-style soil test interpretation
Art Petrzelka wrote:
Thanks, Joel, for your critique. I appreciate the time that you took to
The chemistry and scientific method in Acres U.S.A. is atrocious if you
try to treat it as traditional chemistry. When reading Neal Kinsey's
Hand's on Agronomy, I had to suspend my prior assumptions of chemistry,
small as they are, so that I could try to understand what he was saying.
That group has its own terminology, which can unfortunately be mistaken
for chemistry. Kinsey's use of anion/cation, for instance, is contrary
to common usage.
Maybe I'm more amenable to this because of my education as an engineer.
We're used to warping science to fit practical matters. The Chemistry,
Math and Physics profs used to hate to teach us. They thought that we
were hopelessly inaccurate. :-) I almost said imprecise, because that
is the engineer's most feared fault. Precision over accuracy, that's our
But, back to chemistry, I don't know of any other game in town that
addresses the minor minerals. I got soil tests through the state
extension service last spring. All I get is NPK, organic matter (which
was excellent) and pH. Two of those five are going to vary quite a bit
over the season. It was a cheap test, but the results I got weren't
worth the time and effort.
I got some names of soil testing labs through ATTRA, and have identified
ten labs that do more than NPK. Only two of them do not appear to be
associated with one of the Albrecht-derivative firms that advertise in
Acres U.S.A: University of Maine and MDS Harris. The number and mix of
minerals that are tested for vary from firm to firm. I just checked one,
and it tests for twelve minerals, not the 17 that you mentioned for
plants, or even the 15 or so that Albrecht mentions.
What's a farmer to do? It seems that I have to take some chaff with the
wheat, and hope I can winnow it out on my own. I believe that those
minor minerals are important, and I don't know how to get them balanced
without going through Acres. They are the only resource I have right
A minor quibble with the chart in "Has your soil got guts?": They
shifted the axes on the graph, and read it off the unshifted axes. The
elements that are in shortest supply are H, N & C, not N, P, S & C as
stated. Shortage is indicated by maximum distance from the 45 degree
I ordered "From the Soil Up" by Donald Schiefer, and am looking forward
to learning more.
If you were going to recommend any one book, or small set of books, for
a farmer to study, what would you pick?
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