Organic Ball Field ?'s

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Left Field, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. Left Field

    Left Field LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Hi ,

    I fertilized in December and February mainly because I have absolutely no experience in this endeavor and am clueless . I am trying however .

    I am sending a soil sample to a lab tomorrow for a complete analysis . Maybe I'll learn something valuble .

    I am and will continue to be concerned with ' green-ness ' ... after all this is a Baseball field . I also spend a considerable amount of time and effort in striping it when I mow . Looks matter ... alot . ( to me anyway )

    I am very interested in achieving a healthy , green ballfield by using the info that this forum provides . I am a bit ' behind the curve ' , but I'm a quick study :>)

    Thanks !! J.D.
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    Left field
    Excellent first step getting the soil testing done. This is however just a tool to evaluate what has happened in the soil. Hopefully someone will chime in with more experience than me on how to use the results. Please don't take as gospil what the results tell you. Soil SYSTEMS are complex and what may look like an easy thing, add 50 pounds of lime per 1000 square feet, may indeed be an issue of another kind.

    An orchard in California had put down huge amounts of lime per 1000 sq ft for over 30 years because that was what the soil test told them to do. 30 YEARS EVERY YEAR. If it did not fix the issue in 30 years there was obviously something else going on. Instead they started composting and adding the lime to the compost heap and then applied the compost to the soil. They have not had to add lime in over 6 years, except to the compost heap and in dramatically reduced rates. The issue was that the lime could do nothing because of other issues in the soil SYSTEM

    Call the Corvallis office of the soil food web tel: 541-752-5066 and ask them for a local composter that can supply fungal compost for your field

    What is the climate like around you, my area is a 7A on whatever that climate map is called.

    Please stay away from the weed and feed products as you will have children on the field all of time. If it doesn't rain those pesticides just sit on top of the soil and get in your clothes, shoes, hair, under fingernails, etc. which are then taken into the house and spread all over the house
  3. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504


    Too much is too much when you have standing water for 3 days or more. Moisture meters usually measure a galvanic response. Galvanic response is dependent on salts as much as moisture.
  4. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    Ima glad to see you got a soil test done. Post the results when you get them.

    I am going to go off in a little different direction from the fertilizer or organic crowd. I believe that haveing the correct nutrient balance inthe soils will create and environment for the beneficial microbes that are needed to have a healthy turf, or any crop for that matter. All your fertilizers you mentioned using have good amounts of K in the blends. How do you even know you need to be applying any K at all. In fact it looks like NPK is all you have been concentrating on. The nutrient balance in a soil requires much more than NPK. Of the NPK factor, K only needs to be around 5% saturation levels in the soil, and can be a big influence on soil Ph levels, nitrogen is violatile in the soil and doesnt stay around long and P can be tied up in a matter of weeks. Neither element is required to be found in anywhere near the percentages of Calcium or Magneisum. You will also find that Sulfur will play a hugh part in the health of your plants as well in how green the grass will be. Organic matter plays a big part in holding nutrient levels in the soil and provides a necessary food source for the microbes, as well as providing porousity in the soil layers, thus promoteing better areobic conditions for the microbes to live in. Simple additons of compost might or might not provide the correct chemistry to improve the physical structure of the soil, and compost sources should be checked for nutrient content and applied according to the nutrient requirements of the soil. Supplimental chemical nutrients can be used to fill in the gaps for the missing or other deficient nutrients. Compost are usually very good sources of NPK as well as sulfur, boron and other minerals, and a good source of starter microbes. Further, compost should be topdressed on the soil layer instead of the convential incorporation or tilling into of the soil. Areation and the application of mycorrhizia fungi and their helper bacteria will prove most benefitual in improving soil structure and nutrient uptake, as well as drought resistance.
  5. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    I cant say for certain how the soil test recommendations where made, but most agricultrial companies base their nutrient recommendations of the growing needs of the plant and not necessarly on the nutrient levels in the soil. To much lime can cause nutrient tieup just the same as to little lime. I do find it odd that someone would apply lime to their compost piles since lime will raise Ph levels. In fact I have had more than one PHd microbiologists tell me not to add lime to compost piles. I can only assume that the lime is being added in an effort to raise calcium levels. Without knowing anything about their composting materials or operations, gypsum might be a better choice instead of the lime. Gypsum will supply the missing calcium as well as sulfur, sulfur being a easily leachable nutrient and deficient in most soils. There are also several good, readily available, organic materials that can be used in the compost piles that will raise calcium levels. Cotton residues for one, buckwheat for another.
  6. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    From Dr. Ingham:

    Gypsum is a salt, and as such, in the concentrations typically used, this application KILLS the biology that will do the conversion of the plant not-available forms into plant available forms.

    Gypsum will lead to turning your soil into concrete, especially when you experience dry conditions. Check out how air plane landing fields were made back in WWII.

    The sum total of adding more than 100 pounds of any salt per acre is to force you into pesticide and toxic chemical use.

    100 pounds per acre is less than a handful of the salt on your typical urban size lot.

    You can't buffer inorganic materials to make them "safe". No matter what games you play with ph, lime or gypsum are still salts. You cannot escape their impact on the biology. Use compost to which you have added eggshells, or lime, in order to get the organisms in the compost to turn the calcium into a biologically active form which does not harm organisms.

    Lime is calcium carbonate.

    Gypsum is calcium sulfate.

    Dolomite contains a significant amount of magnesium, enough to drive the calcium to magnesium ratio in the "wrong" direction.

    Tightness of the soil is typically dependent on the Ca:Mg. The stickier the soil is, the higher the magnesium relative to calcium. Most soils in the US need a Ca:Mg ratio of around 6:1 to 7:1 to flocculate the clays.

    Of course this one factor alone will not build soil structure, it is just an initial step that needs to occur to move in the right direction.

    But what most people don't realize is that lime, gypsum or dolomite are all salts. Salts remove water from the available pool. And the negative impact is on the microbes in the soil long before there is an impact on the plant. Although, you can overdo even lime applications and have serious salt impacts on your plants.

    My recommendation is, once you have started to revive the biology in your soil, add soluble calcium to the compost, or to the tea, rather than use salts on the soil directly.

    Once you have the life back in the soil, the bacteria and fungi control soil pH. Keep the organisms fed and happy, relative to the plants you want, and then only when nature sends an un-usual weather event do you have to do anything to help the soil return to a condition of health.
  7. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Based on that reply it would appear your in way over your head on this. FYI, without proper water management (eg. that which we can control) everything else is a wash (pun intended).
  8. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    No, this is to show you take something very simple and basic and try to turn it into something more complex and difficult than it has to be. For what, to justify your fee???
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    You should really let this one go Gerry, your clearly are in over your head.
  10. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    Ratios mean nothing if there isnt sufficient nutrients in the soil. My soils have 7lbs of Calcium and 1 lb of magnesium, per acre, 6.5 inches in depth. I have a perfect ratio of these nutrients. I guess that means my soils also contain enough of these nutrients to sustain plant growth. Higher levels of calcium are usually needed for tight clay soils, where as higher mg levels seem to work best in sandy soil. The amount needed of either nutrient is dependant on the Cation Exchange Capacity of the soil.

    All this stuff about salts, lets not confuse soluible salts with Sodium. You will find salts in your compost as well as in chemical fertilizers. Also, lime as well as gypsum are organic materials.

    I will agree that Gypsum applications can make the soil hard as concrete. This generally happens when calcium levels are below 60% and the gypsum applications wont get the calcium above 60% saturation.

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