Feed the soil

Dirt Fert

Harvest Grow products contain the essential nutrients required to build, maintain, and restore soil fertility.     .

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Soil Food Web
pH factors
Cation Exchange Capacity
Organic Matter Content

Soil basics...

What is soil…really?  Soil is a living thing requiring special care. The quality of soil is the function of the chemical and physical properties of the content of the soil and the structure of the soil. Regarding content, a healthy soil contains a balance mixture of five constituents:
          About two-thirds by volume weathered rock ranging in size from small stones all the down to the tiniest specs of clay called aggregate.  
          About one-third by volume dead and decomposing organic materials from plant and animal sources.  
          A very substantial population of living creatures, particularly soil microorganisms  
          A large quantity of water containing a variety of dissolved mineral nutrients.  
          A remarkable amount of air.

What is Soil Structure?  Soil structure is the way in which the sand, silt, and clay particles are grouped together. The drainage capacity of the soils and the ability of the soils to make nutrients available to the plant are functions of soil structure. Harvest Grow products contain Humus which plays an important role in maintaining soil aggregates.

Why are soil aggregates important?  Soil aggregates help to build and to sustain soil porosity. A porous soil structure helps in several ways:  
          It aids in the movement and retention of water, air and nutrients in the soil;
          It helps to insulate the soil from sharp changes in temperature and pressure; and
          It gives easier passage to the roots and soil organisms.

 Soil porosity is a function of the spacing between the soil aggregates. The pores or cavities between the soil particles or aggregates are called microspores or macrospores depending on their relative size. The macrospores are large enough to give free movement of water and air into and through the soil. Macrospores are essential to good drainage and giving soil organisms and root hairs ready access to air. They also give roots and root hairs easy channels for growth.       

Microspores are much smaller. Air and water pass through these restricted cavities but slowly. They seem to be of importance because they help the soil to retain water. They do not seem to help with the movement of air into or through the soil. 

What is Topsoil?  The roots of most plants and all of the soil organisms need oxygen to survive. Life in the soil is dependent on both air and water. Topsoil differs from subsoil primarily because topsoil has a more open structure that contains sufficient oxygen to support both root growth and soil organisms.    

Topsoil is usually a darker color because of it's higher organic content. The thickness can be increased by mixing subsoil with the topsoil and adding DirtFert. The mix becomes topsoil once the blend establishes it's new ecosystem and begins to support new communities of soil micro and macro-organisms.

What is the function of organic material in the soil?  Organic material has a number of important functions in the soil:
          It is a primary source of nutrients for the plants
          It is a primary nutrient for the soil micro and macro-organisms
          It is the parent source for humus
          It helps to hold moisture and nutrients within the soil aggregates and throughout the soil as a whole
          It helps the soil maintain a healthy environment for both plants and soil organisms
          It helps correct PH excesses of both soil alkalinity and soil acidity
          It helps to prevent erosion

What are Organic Soils?  They are soils that were originally formed in shallow lake bottoms, swampy areas or bogs. They are relatively light but can hold up to four times their weight in water keeping the soil excessively moist. 15% by volume organic material is a good amount. Native soils frequently run as low as 3% by volume organic. They tend to be very rich in terms of the major nutrients but they are often shy in terms of the micro-nutrients and particularly zinc, copper, and manganese. Organic soils contain more than 20 percent organic material. Take it easy in terms of adding manures and composts to organic soils. Feeding with supplement materials containing trace micro-nutrients would be appropriate for organic soils like DirtFert. A foul smell indicates anaerobic decomposition. The soil doesn't have enough air. It can be corrected by adding DirtFert and turning it into the soil.

What is pH?  Technically, pH is a measurement of the concentration of hydrogen ions. Common language, pH is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity. The pH of totally pure water is 7.0. The lower the numbers away from 7.0, the greater the acidity. The higher the numbers away from 7.0, the higher the alkalinity. It uses a logarithmic scale so a material with a pH of 4.0 is ten times as acidic as a material with a pH of 5.0 and a hundred times as acidic as a material with a pH of 6.0

What's the best pH for plants?  Most plants will tolerate a range of soils extending from decidedly acid to moderately alkaline. Most, however, prefer a soil that is just slightly acidic. A pH range between 6.3 to 6.8 would be about right for most crops. A soil containing a significant amount of organic matter will often have a pH in that range as a result of the organic acids produced in the composting process.

Are soil tests really necessary?  A single soil test will not give you a true picture of what is happening in your soil. Typically an initial soil test will determine nutrient deficiencies rather than soil microbial activity and its ability to convert nutrients into a form the plant can absorb. The first soil test is a baseline to compare supplemental soil tests against. Conduct several soil tests throughout the season to determine if your soil is headed in the right direction.

What are Soil Microorganisms?  There are billions to hundreds of billions of soil microorganisms in a mere handful of a typical, garden soil. That single handful might well contain thousands of different species of bacteria (most of whom have yet to be classified), hundreds of different species of fungi and protozoa, dozens of different species of nematodes plus a goodly assortment of various mites and other micro arthropods. Almost all of these countless soil organisms are not only beneficial, but essential to the life giving properties of soil.

What do soil microorganisms do for the physical, chemical, and/or bio-chemical properties of soil?  Soil microorganisms breakdown a variety of organic materials and use a portion of these breakdown products to generate or synthesize a series of compounds that make up humus. In addition to producing humus, the soil microorganisms breakdown and/or bind a variety of organic and inorganic materials and help to clean up corrupted or polluted soils referred to as bio-remediation.

What are humic substances?  The relatively small and simple polymers, specifically those humic substances with a small molecular weight, are known as fulvic acids. The relatively large and complex polymers, specifically those humic materials with a high molecular weight, are known as humic acids. It is believed that fulvic acids become humic acids with more polymerization and that humic acids become humin with even more polymerization. Humic substances include fulvic acids, humic acids, the salts of both fulvic and humic acids, and humin.

What do humic substances do for the soil?  Harvest Grow Humic substances perform at least five critical functions:  
increase adsorption of minerals and bring into solution mineral materials that would otherwise be inert and convert them into forms that can be taken up by the plants
                  as nutrients;    
increase adsorption of organic compounds which aids in plant nutrition, plant physiology, and in the cleanup of polluting or toxic materials in the soil;   
           They increase the water holding capacities of the soil which makes water more available to the plants for greater plant production;    
increase the soil's buffering capacity helping to stabilize the soil's pH to help the plants to take up mineral nutrients; and   
darken the soil color which increases the soil's adsorption of solar energy.     

Fulvic acids are more chemically reactive than humic acids and are mostly involved in the chemical reactions that influence plant's growth and nutrition while the humic acids are mostly involved in altering the physical characteristics of the soil.

What are the Essential MACRO and MICRO Nutrient Elements?  The essential mineral macro nutrients are: nitrogen, phosphorus (measured as an ingredient of phosphoric acid or a phosphate), potassium, sulfur, and calcium. Note that nitrogen is not a mineral in the true sense of the word and is not present in the soil particles, per se. Nitrogen as a nutrient must come from organic matter, air, or synthetic chemical sources rather than from mineral or rock particles.       

The essential mineral micro nutrients or essential "trace elements" are: magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, boron and molybdenum. Certain plants also require: chlorine, aluminum, sodium, silica, or cobalt.  These are the basic nutrients, there are many more the plant uses that are essential to proper development.  Harvest Grow products provide these.

Sources of Micronutrients in Harvest Grow products.  Kelp is valued not only for its macronutrient (N, P, and K) contributions but for micronutrients, trace minerals, amino acids and vitamins plus growth hormones that stimulate plant cell division. Our cold processed, liquid kelp has higher levels of growth hormones than most extracts. They may also be enzymatically digested, making the growth hormones even more available to the plants.

How roots uptake nutrients.  Most of the mineral nutrients in the soil are in the form of mineral salts dissolved in the soil. The roots feed on these nutrients and assimilate the mineral nutrients into the plant by osmosis. There are a couple of exceptions.      

Nitrogen is the one essential macro nutrient that is not a mineral. It must be in the nitrate form before it can be taken up by the roots. Nitrogen applied to the soil in the form of a protein from organic sources, ammonia or ammonium salts from organic or synthetic sources must first be decomposed or oxidized to the nitrite form and then decomposed or oxidized further to the nitrate form. This oxidation process is the work of special nitrobacteria resident in the soil. Legumes have nodules on their roots which contain "nitrogen fixing" bacteria that can take nitrogen directly from the air present in the soil to short-cut the normal nitrogen cycle.      

The second major exception is phosphorus which is normally present in the soil in the form of relatively insoluble phosphate salts. Very little of the phosphate salt is released into the soil soup. Instead, trace amounts of the phosphate salt are released to the microscopic film of moisture surrounding the nutrient particles and the root hairs are left with the responsibility of seeking out these phosphate salts. This pushes the root hairs to seek the phosphorus in new areas.

Nutrient uptake through the Mycorrhizae fungi  Mycorrhizae are symbiotic soil fungi, present in most soils. They attach themselves directly onto the roots of most plants. They help the host plants absorb more water and nutrients while the host plants provide food for the fungi. Because the surface area of the hyphae, the feeding structures of the mycorrhizae, may be several hundred times the surface area of the roots, the mycorrhizae can feed on a larger soil mass and they can also feed more thoroughly. Mycorrhizae have the potential to be a central nutritional source for most plants.

How Nitrogen Transformations in the Soil   Nitrogen exists in a number of chemical forms and undergoes chemical and biological reactions.      

Organic nitrogen to ammonium nitrogen (mineralization).
Organic nitrogen comprises over 95 percent of the nitrogen found in soil. This form of nitrogen cannot be used by plants but is gradually transformed by soil microorganisms to ammonium (NH4+). Ammonium is not leached to a great extent. Since NH4+ is a positively charged ion (cation), it is attracted to and held by the negatively charged soil clay. Ammonium is available to plants.    

Ammonium nitrogen to nitrate nitrogen (nitrification).
In warm, well-drained soil, ammonium transforms rapidly to nitrate (NO3-). Nitrate is the principle form of nitrogen used by plants. It leaches easily, since it is a negatively charged ion (anion) and is not attracted to soil clay. The nitrate form of nitrogen is a major concern in pollution.    

Nitrate or ammonium nitrogen to organic nitrogen (immobilization).
Soil microorganisms use nitrate and ammonium nitrogen when decomposing plant residues. These forms are temporarily "tied-up" (incorporated into microbial tissue) in this process. This can be a major concern if crop residues are high in carbon relative to nitrogen. Examples are wheat straw, corn stalks and sawdust. The addition of 20 to 70 pounds of nitrogen per ton of these residues is needed to prevent this transformation. After the residues are decomposed, the microbial population begins to die back and processes 1 and 2 take place.    

Nitrate nitrogen to gaseous nitrogen (denitrification).
When soil does not have sufficient air, microorganisms use the oxygen from NO3- in place of that in the air and rapidly convert NO3- to nitrogen oxide and nitrogen gases (N2). These gases escape to the atmosphere and are not available to plants. This transformation can occur within two or three days in poorly aerated soil and can result in large loses of nitrate-type fertilizers.    

Ammonium nitrogen to ammonia gas (ammonia volatilization).
Soils that have a high pH (pH greater than 7.5) can lose large amounts of NH4+ by conversion to NH3 gas. To minimize these losses, incorporate solid ammonium-type fertilizers, urea and anhydrous ammonia below the surface of a moist soil.

Harvest Grow products contain Nitrogen in significant amounts when you consider how the Nitrogen  is maximized in the soil cycle.

Soil fertility is the key to any successful harvest.....period.