Soil

Bill has been an avid reader of the Farmer’s Weekly magazine for some time. There was a series of articles by  John Fair on biological farming, where he promotes the use of the Albrecht system of soil analysis and improvement.  We also spent some time going through Neal Kinsey’s book “Hands-on Agronomy”, which makes a complex subject quite accessible.

Traditional approaches focus on correcting soil pH, and then using fertilisers to feed the plants. In contrast, the Albrecht system places a strong emphasis on correcting the Calcium levels of the soil, ensuring a balanced soil chemistry, which then improves the soil structure, making the nutrients more easily available to the plants, ultimately reducing the quantities of fertilisers that need to be applied.

Albrecht’s system made a lot of sense to us but in the interests of retaining objectivity, we had our soil analysed both in the traditional way, and using Albrecht’s methods. At first glance, the results were remarkably similar. As we expected, the soil is generally good, being rich in all the required nutrients, BUT with very high levels of Sodium and Chloride. What was vastly different in the two analyses were the recommendations.

/The first thing we did was to rip the ground in order to break up years of compaction and poor drainage in the soil which clearly had a high clay content (later confirmed by the analyses)

We resolved to follow the advice we received from SA Biofarm, which involves, initially, spreading calcitic lime, followed by gypsum the next year. The spreading of the lime is planned for May 2013. Once this was done, we planned to  plant a cover crop to improve the humic content of the soil. This had to wait a while as the rain was late in coming but was, eventually achieved.

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