Clay Soils

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Smallaxe, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,967

    I think heritage gave a number to look at. It is not to be taken in isolation, but it is a good start. I stop picking apart the messenger and actually read the message. The private labs have done me well. Using their numbers has enabled me to go beyond putting more organic matter on soils already over 5%, and aerating grease.
     
  2. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,258

    Axe,

    Heavy muddy clay soils with OM less than 2%, I would core aerate and add OM for faster results......But no way would I do it in wet Muddy conditions for the obvious.

    The high Mg clay soils I have been dealing with are "Managed" using Albrecht's Base Saturation Methods.

    In addition to that model, try using Inputs of Humic Acid and other carbon sources applied with every single application to Turfgrass, and not always N, especially when soil temps are very warm.

    Over time managed clays can have better structure.
     
  3. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,967

    That is the way to go. Lots of talk about putting on more organic matter and aeration, Not much on base saturation. I would be making bricks if I were to aerate and add more organic matter. In order for organic matter to do me any good, the entire soil profile would need replacement with 75% inert sand and 25% organic matter. I have done that for those who cannot wait for base correction to work.
     
  4. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    Aeration + Compost does a clay soil good. Compost applied once a year with aeration every three years for the past 15 years or so with a Ca:Mg of 1.07 and pH of 7.5.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Victorsaur

    Victorsaur LawnSite Member
    Posts: 81

    Hi greendoctor, heritage,

    I've been reading your posts on this thread. I just wanted to ask that if my summary of understanding here is accurate: For inland clay soils, the basic procedure for creating a soil makeup that provides better drainage is getting pH levels to about 7 and the Ca:Mg ratio to 7:1. Carbon sources add to the stability of clay soils as well as OM if it is (below 4%?). Be aware of possible man-made pollutants and salts. I noted also GD's post about using citric acid on alkaline clay soils to help "break it up" with sufficient irrigation of course. What about clay soils that are naturally acidic? Please correct or add to any of this.

    And another question, do either of you have recommendations on any in-depth books or soil labs?
     
  6. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,967

    Acid soils need lime, usually high calcium lime. Of course, this is all determined by a soil test listing bases and their percent saturation. I apply what I do based on such a test. This may not work or even be necessary for soils in other locations. The usage of citric acid is due to the massive amounts of magnesium and calcium carbonate in the soil. Something is needed to immediately react with that. Sulfur is a more long term solution that does get applied in conjunction with citric acid drenches. I have my soil sent to either A & L West or Brookside.
     
  7. Victorsaur

    Victorsaur LawnSite Member
    Posts: 81

    Interesting. I'm guessing then that this is related to the CEC levels? Both citric acid and sulfur are then catalyctic agents for the release of said cations, but sulfur specifically will create a prolonged increase in the soil's CEC? Just want to clarify.
     
  8. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,258

    Nice work Kiril with that soil type.


    I am wondering though if The A horizon is where you get your Ca/Mg ratio and pH reading from......

    The B horizon sure......

    Quite an Organic layer on the top.
     
  9. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,258


    Your acid clays could benefit from Organic Matter to improve soil structure. Curious what your Ca Mg ratio is before suggesting lime type.
     
  10. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,258

    With your acid clays you need to go the other direction. More acids no.....

    Organic Matter would be good.

    Any recent soil tests?
     

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