Posts Tagged ‘Humus’

A Guide to Yummy Tank Mixing Cocktails

I’d like to take a quick break from the water quality thing to share a recent experience from the field.

Everybody tank mixes fertility products. In some form or another, you put stuff in the spray tank and expect that it will come out whatever nozzles you have and do the intended job. That’s not rocket science. It’s part of Turfhead life. So when I was called this week to help a turfhead straighten out a spray mix, I was pretty excited to see what said Turf Monkey was hitting the tank with and why it was an issue. Because what I was told was going into the tank didn’t seem like it would be all that much of a problem.

As it turns out, it was the mixing order that was the issue and when we took a look at his technique and changed a few things, problem solved. Plus, at the end of the day, we probably built a fertility spray that we know to be a bit more bomb proof.

Here’s my tank mixing order. There may be other’s like it, but this one is mine, Joker.

  1. Nitrogen. Whatever N source you are using, add it to as much virgin water as possible.
  2. Mineral. Potassium, Calcium, whatever. Add your mineral dominant materials next.
  3. Metallics. I’m thinking Iron here mostly, but Manganese, Zinc, etc. also fit into this area. Again, look at the dominant ingredient to classify.
  4. Carbon. Here’s where I see a lot of people make a mistake. What we are trying to do is to stabilize and complex (a big word for “surround with good stuff”) the materials above. Kind of an Amish way to chelation. For some reason, a lot of people like to put these materials in the spray tank first and then add the other stuff. The usual result isn’t bad, but now and then the whole thing turns to a gelatinous goo. Bad.

So that’s it. There’s the tank mix order that often works to save folks some effort and makes a fertility spray stable and often preserves the energy in the whole thing. I’ll get to the Spray Solution Energy discussion one day, but that’s not for now.

What we are trying to do is to stabilize and complex (a big word for “surround with good stuff”) the materials above. Kind of an Amish way to chelation…”

Yes, I know. You put other things in your tank, like chemicals and growth regulators and stuff like that. I guess I have to take the safe road first and tell you to really read the label, and always jar test. But having said that, in most cases we start with those materials and then progress to the others.

Since Earthworks is one of my blog sponsors (thank you) and Joel Simmons is one of my good friends (thank you, again, because that’s much more expensive), let’s look at one of Joel’s popular program combos and apply the thinking above: 

Their 5-5-5 program combines 5 oz. each of CalVantage, Protein Plus and Trilogy. This one is pretty simple.

  1. The only product in the trio that has N is the Protein Plus, so in the tank it goes first. Yes, I know, it has a bunch of other stuff in there, but there’s a significant amount of N (14%), so it goes first.
  2. Next, the CalVantage. Mineral, Baby.
  3. Last, the Trilogy with the molasses, fish emulsion, kelp extract and humic acid. This is the Complexing agent left to last to surround everyone with carbon goodness.

So there it is, a tip for a starting place for better tank mixes. I hope this helps!

Humus Part 1: Not Dirty, Hairy!

The Difference between Dirt and Soil has to do with this amazing word: Humus.

I love humus. I do. I spend time contemplating how it works, what it is about and how it affects everything that we do in soil management. So in my small brain, any discussion about what soils are and are not has to start (and end) with some kind of thought as to what does and does not happen to the Humus content in the soil.

Most of us will agree that soil is perhaps the most major natural resource that we are involved with. Yet most of the same people who acknowledge this simple statement are quick to move right past the velvet ropes of carbon based life and get right into the chemical salt dance club. You can blame the hot fertilizer chicks or the mean agronomy bouncers, but the truth is, the good party is in the Humus kitchen and it is still pretty underground. Ignore the Velvet Underground of Humus and you risk joining other failed soil disaster cultures like Mayans and Mesopotamians.

The soil dance floor moves with life in a natural light show of Oxygen, Water, Minerals, and Decomposing Plant and Animal Matter. It’s actually simple to fit in with the groove and when those elements combine they create ongoing party life if not disturbed. Healthy soil just works, nutrients are available to the plant and everyone Wang Chungs. As Turfheads, we see this in the quality of the playing surface, not just the color of the grass, but in the overall quality of the turfgrass sward.

It’s a simple drink recipe. Good soil consists of 93% mineral and 7% bio-organic substance. The Bio-organic blend is right at about 85% humus, 10% roots and 5% living organisms. The “live” world consists of microbes, fungi, bacteria, earthworms, micro and macro fauna.

…and the Turfhead’s old Outlaw Buddy, Rhizoctonia, who we need at the gig for security, but like Hell’s Angels, can create total chaos…

Surrounding the club is Carbon Dioxide.

During the growing season, plants party with the CO2 in a much better way than a Deadhead with a Nitrous Tank. Plants fix the Carbon Dioxide by the Miracle Ticket called Photosynthesis. About 10-25% of this fixed Carbon finds its way back into the show after being treated at the Oxygen tent. It gets back to the soil through the roots in the form of Root Exudates, something on the order of shake or trimmings.This happens even if all the plant residues are eventually removed.

Fungi and Actinobacteria seem to be the best jazz players around at Humus formation. The end product of their microbial degradation results in Humus. The cats that play have heavy names like Aspergillus (a moldy cousin to Dobie Gillis), Pisolithus (who used to sell shrooms to Keith Richards), Streptomycetes (gram-positive mosh pit bacteria) and the Turfhead’s old Outlaw Buddy, Rhizoctonia, who we need at the gig for security, but like Hell’s Angels, can create total chaos if left to do their own thing.

Over the years, the the Techo types (aka, Science) have tried and tried and failed and failed again to create Humus. It can’t be done synthetically. Can’t. It’s life and it’s delicate. Like a computer being fed every note of a Jimmy Page solo or a Keith Moon rhythm, the recipe is known, but it takes nature’s talent to make it happen. However, the whole concept of stewardship means that humans can influence and control the whole process by virtue of what is input and what is not. Too much salt fertilizer, too much organic addition, too much control agents and the system breaks down. Too little, and often the same thing happens. That balance can be assessed in the fertility and productivity of soil. It’s that simple.

It’s called Stewardship and that word along with fellow band mates Organic and Sustainable have caused a ton of good and a great deal of chaos. Why? Because they were never supposed to out perform and upstage Mick Jagger–the Humus, the true frontman.


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