Dead Soil?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by JDUtah, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    I hope this doesn't evolve into another bashing thread. I want to understand where Barefoot is coming from (as related to comments he has made in two other threads).

    Free of the heat from either of those threads... To start off right and understand each other I think it is important to clarify the very thing that started a little spiff... so what did you mean by "dead soil" in that post where you said you believe in it?

    Hopefully I understand and do not feel like taking this thread any farther lol.


    ps... I am going out to dinner, but will be back later.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    I have no idea what the previous "stuff' is about

    Think succession, disturbed soils start at a place in "succcession" typically small areas of bacterial colonies. The soils have to build from there.

    If you bulldoze or rototill an area you will break up the fungal and bacterial colonies that are in the soil. These are the nutrient miners, the decomposers that supply nutrients to the plant root. These are in most cases symbiotic realtionships between the plant and the soil

    Get rid of these symbiotic relationships and you have basically "dead soil". what deminishes the colonies and beneficials can happen in all sorts of ways

    Katerina (the hurricane) is a good example, salt water and often total destruction of soil (washed away), fire, standing water for long periods of time, etc
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  3. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    some soil was just not meant to hold any life, like the sand I live on. its a mix of seashells and quarts, most of the time the rain washes all the OM from the top to the marshes and swamps..................
  4. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    I told them to check out

    This was about reduction in soil fertility due to years of synthetic ferts, herbs and pests. The pest side wanted proof I referred JD to Acres USA.

    My whole deal was you could help soils with OM and organic inputs that would help the soil fertility and even help the NPK's, herbs and pests work better.

    Mr. Creech went off on a tangent about genetic improved corn and yields that grow every year, blah, blah, blah. I basically tried several angles of reason all pointed towards - how organics would only help - even genetic corn could have even bigger yields if OM and other organic inputs went back into soil. Even sent him a study (specific proof) on Pecan Tree yields/30% to 40% just with myco - he tripped out - how are you going to crop rotate Pecan Trees.:laugh: - thought that was pretty funny.

    Anyway JD wanted specific proof, tests, peer-reviewed stuff (you know JD) about subject and how he had looked all over the web and found nothing about synthetics hurting soil fertilities.

    Even too many organic inputs could hurt soil fertility (or lock it up) but Ferts alone cannot build or improve soil fertility. - The actual synthetics in the soil might improve the yields but they are bypassing the soil - so it is not really part of the soil. I have never read anything but that synthetics bypass the soil and the water basically is the carrier (of synthetics) to the plant - granted the organics present in the soil will help as best it can to process and use synthetics on a whole. But without organic inputs actual soil fertility would decline because of the synthetics themselves, wind, rain, pollution, etc.

    One fact that is just fact - and would reduce soil fertility is Synthetic P. Over 10% will kill mycorrhizae. If it will kill a benefital fungi that builds soil structure and glomalin production, which is proving to be THE primary soil building super star then this shows synthetics, reduce soil fertility. One of many things in synthetic ferts that compromise soil fertility (salt, reduced CEC, etc).
  5. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    I don't know if I would go this far. If everything you apply is taken up by plants, yes, but is this really the case? These ferts could also be taken up by microbes, adsorbed onto charged particles (clay, OM), form different compounds and precipitate out of solution, etc... This means that to some extent synthetic ferts could add to overall soil fertility in the short term, BUT they generally do nothing for overall soil health.
  6. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,305

    I come across "dead soil" all the time here, David. It's almost a given in any of the new construction areas.

    Landscapers bring in big machines and scrape off that top layer of soil that contains the microbial world - and then they plop sod onto the sublayers of "dead soil".

    I peddle Mycorrhizal Fungi to these types of accounts to initiate microbial development, and the results compared to just letting new sod fend for itself in these situations is phenomenal.
  7. Barefoot James

    Barefoot James LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    Good point but the biology has to be in place organically for this to happen? I look at soil fertility as the soils ability to grow stuff and grow itself - so it may help short term grow plants but it is not adding to the soils ability to grow the humus part of the soil? So is it helping the whole circle of fertility. Or am I talking about soil structure here? Or both?
  8. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    If we assume soil health = soil fertility, and we define a healthy soil as one that can support the desired plant growth naturally without the use of synthetics, then you are correct. In an ideal world, the above would be a soil that requires no inputs at all.
  9. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    OK so we can agree that "dead soil" is soil that does not have the microbial life required to perform the mineralization that supports plant life?

    Would you agree with this statement?

    BTW Barefoot you might want to re-read the post where I entered that conversation. Note the peer reviewed part. No hard feelings.

    But anyways do we agree on the dead soil definition?
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2009
  10. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,315

    No, as that is only one possible definition.

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