Soil Ph Problems

Soil Ph Problems

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    Ruth Bunbury

    Hello Everyone,

    I am a new producer coming back to farming after many years; I am taking over 40 acres of farm land from my father as he has not been engaged in the practice for some time. The farm itself is located in Eastern Ontario, Canada. I worked my family’s farm during my childhood and early adulthood, but did not develop an expertise in soil ecology and would greatly appreciate your and NATGA’s guidance as both local and provincial soil experts have not been able to assist me.

    The crop I am planting this coming fall is relatively new to Ontario and Canada, Tuber aestivum syn. uncinatum (Burgundy Truffles) and requires specific soil conditions. Soil conditions, that when tested last year, proved agreeable, however now (tested in late spring) are not favourable to production, which is very alarming considering the cost of inoculated seedlings. I have ordered 600 truffle inoculated Hazelnut trees for fall planting. I am not living on the farm currently as my family and I are slowly transitioning, I believe that my father, who is kind, sweet and the hardest working man I know, but also slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, submitted soil from the wrong field for testing (a field that is not available for planting).

    I am not sure how to correct the situation as the field, 5 acres, 3 of which will be planted (the bottom area is comprised of Moscow clay and is unsuitable), was recently planted with a cover crop of oats/barley mid May. The analysis came back this past week.

    The analysis shows a Ph that is much too low to encourage successful fruiting of Burgundy truffles, and other nutrients are also off by significant margins. When the soil was initially sent for analysis I asked for recommendations from OMAFRA as it was included in the testing, but AFL at the University of Guelph said they could not provide recommendations as they did not have available data. I also requested support from the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (a government organization) some time ago and received no response. Which is why I am hoping the experts in this group who have dealt with low Ph may have some advice they would be willing to share with me.

    Is there a way to bring up the Ph without destroying the cover crop? Could the crop be planted WITH soil amendments directly at each individual site, or is that too risky? Could I try trenching and amending the soil in the trench with the intention to plant there? Am I going to have to dump 2-5 tonnes an acre to hopefully bring the soil up enough in time for planting? I have linked my analysis (the link is generated from my Google Drive) from AFL as well data from a research study conducted by the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry if you would like to review the conundrum in detail.

    Thank you for your time!


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