Do salts from syntheic fertilizers really harm the soil food web?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by replenish&subdue, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. replenish&subdue

    replenish&subdue LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    Do salts from syntheic fertilizers really harm the soil food web? I hear it from both sides. Any authority out there? Perhaps someone knows an university study.
    It is not easy finding the truth of the matter often times. Here is another one I am looking into, Neem oil does it build up a resistance to insects? I heard from someone I respect that the Dept. of Agriculture was excited about this product until it was discovered it does build up a resistance to insects. I guess I could try to find how to get through to that monster of an organization to know who is saying what. And I will but since I'm new at this and I am among the tried and proven I wanted to ask you out there first.
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    A simple test will prove it to yourself - one way or another.

    I prefer to believe my eyes rather than so-called experts and authorities. Find a piece of ground equal in every way and make 2 sections. small or large. Max one on synferts and the other on compost or whatever you consider organic.

    A bio-assay or microscope will let you know by the end of the season. :)

    Neem affects some insect more than others. The survivers pass on the genetic code for resistance.
  3. replenish&subdue

    replenish&subdue LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    I sell a product that injects cedar oil into one's irrigation system. Insects are not supposed to build up a resistance to cedar oil because cedar oil works only on insects that are pheromone driven ( or breath through their bodies).It does not work through the nervous system. It is real good with mosquitoes and works on a whole array of insects and especially good at dissolving eggs. Our fly population was cut down dramatically to where it was no longer a problem (we have chickens). Mosquito control was the difference between night and day to where it was no longer an issue to my children playing in the backyard.When I questioned the product due to some mosquitoes (I tested it all last year) then I went across the street to my neighbor who lived on the hill and his mosquitoes were terrible.I live in a challenging area of low wet areas where water sits around two sides of my property.
    I got into preaching. Really not trying to sell you on anything but getting back to neem. I have not learned enough about neem yet.I am reading a book currently that says it will not build up a resistance but that was challenged and here I am trying to discover the truth. I do know dormant oil will not build up a resistance,works best in winter but can be used year round at reduced rates (if temps. below 90). And I know castor oil works to send moles to your neighbors yard and won't build up a resistance. Castor and cedar the non-beneficial insects and moles gotta go for the odor either suffocates them or in moles drives them away.I was hoping neem proves good,then I can push cedar,neem, castor and dormant oils.
    Iron sharpens iron. I don't mind being proven wrong only want to know what is real and really works.
  4. Mr. Nice

    Mr. Nice LawnSite Member
    from zone 7
    Messages: 155

    i personally see it like this, using soluble syn's exclusively, only feed certain organisms and or by pass some natural nutrient cycling processes??, possible high salts concentration/accumulation could cause issues depending??
  5. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Messages: 2,636

    I thought Cedar Oil worked as a deterrent? The mosquitoes at you neighbor's is kind of evidence of that? From what I remember misquotes can fly 1-5 miles looking for 'blood'. So if they are at your neighbors but not your place is it because they die as they fly through or because they don't wanna be over there?

    Anyways back on topic... My personal opinion? No, salts (mineral nutrients) do not kill soil life when kept within bounds (plant suitable Soil Salinity). In fact I have read studies that show synthetic fertilizers increase microbe populations in compost piles.

    It all comes down to balance and concentration. Does the typical use of fertilizers build up a mineral salt (nutrient) concentration too high to sustain microbial life? I doubt it when you consider absorption, leaching, and volatization...

    I have yet to test it, but there is a SFI test on this forum for a lawn that had chemical ferts for a long time. What did the test say? Microbe levels were normal to high. You decide.

    I do believe a fert vs compost comparison will show more life in the compost treated soil, but IMO mainly because the compost provides 'housing' in addition to 'nutrition'.

    There is a 5 year old thread on this forum asking the same exact thing... and to this date no one has been able to provide any data to support the claim that fert salts kill soil microbes when used at appropriate levels... Take it for what it's worth.

    I will be in a professional position to test this one day.

    Hope you have a good day.
  6. Prolawnservice

    Prolawnservice LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 612

    Water is the key, a salt will desiccate soil life or even plant life if water is deficient.
  7. replenish&subdue

    replenish&subdue LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    Thanks JD Utah,
    So it is alot of talk. I guess I'll do my own tests this year.Excuse my ignorance but what is a SFI test. Don't know where you heard those studies from ?
  8. mrkosar

    mrkosar LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 680

    not trying to move this discussion in a different direction, but does anyone have evidence, studies, etc. that herbicides deplete soil life?

    what is the lowest toxicity insecticide for grubs?
  9. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    ionic requirements for life at high salt concentrations??????

    some cut and paste for those that love it

    Another problem compounds nature’s dilemma. Soil microbes are vital to soil health functioning to convert organic matter and soil materials into plant nutrient.
    Compounds such as NaCl, CaCl, MgCl, etc., typical to salt waters are toxic to the microbes. The chief toxic agent is sodium (Na). Microbes can live, though not healthy,
    in many salts, but NaCl is lethal. At this point, nature has no way to remove the contaminant, nor does it have the ability to provide nutrient to any plant that can tolerate
    the salts present. This constitutes a double deathblow to nature....................
  10. replenish&subdue

    replenish&subdue LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    Good question mrkosar.I don't know.When I ask about if pre-emergents hurt the soil life I do not get solid answers. Hope someone knows.

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