Re: reinventing soil testing

On 27 Jan 1997 18:11:12 GMT gyoung@pacific.net (Gregg A Young) wrote:

>1) I think there is no one system (although the largest labs in the world,
>Harris and A & L Labs all use similiar; partially based on Albrechts
>system (although recommendations sometimes ignore his main concepts. The
>basic problem is most labs & spit out recommendations, dealers hand them
>to farmers (sometimes with their local input); no one tries to get farmers
>to understand how soils work.
As the owner/manager of a multi-branch farm supply dealership I can
attest that this indeed is the problem.  I define soil testing as a
two part process:
1) the mechanical - gathering the sample, analytical and generating a
reccomendation based on some database. 
2) the human - interpreting the reccomendation in the light of local
conditions and known management style and capability of the grower

All our efforts at "improving" the process seem to be directed at the
mechanical phase of this process.  I don't believe that will
ultimately lead to an improvement in utilization of nutrient resources
because I believe the real problem lies in the human portion of the

>2) I think we know a lot more than is applied; its made much more
>complicated than it really is.
>3) I think exchangeable resins, with standard soil tests & plant analysis
>would be excellant - with the possible addition of QUALITY of OM tests
>(such as Wood's End Lab does) would be as complete as possible.
>4) ???
>I am presently working on a soil science training manual as my Master's
>thesis; it will be to use my 20+ year's testing & field experience in N
>California using Albrechts system. I did a survey of 40 N Coast fetilizer
>dealers - 1/2 do not even use soil testing; of those who do 1/2 do not
>write their own recommendations: Less than 25% of the dealers understand
>enough to interpret tests & write recommendations for the growers they
>work with!
>   This manual will explain how to interpret lab analyses & make recs.
>Should be very useful for farmers, consultants, researchers, managers,
I will look forward to seeing your results especially if you can
incorporate some extension component either before or after the
process is complete.  
R.J.(Bob) Evans
Nipawin, SK

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