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Philip Small

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Philip Small last won the day on May 5 2007

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About Philip Small

  • Rank
    Thinking
  • Birthday 04/03/1954

Converted

  • Biography
    I consult on land use and land utilization issues: prime farmland, wetlands, biosolids, wastewater
  • Location
    Spokane, WA
  • Interests
    Medicinal plant, roasting coffee, historic preserva-/restoration, blogging, soil science advocacy
  • Occupation
    Soil Scientist
  1. Lime line in Africa should be near the ustic/udic boundary in this map, with ustic xeric and aridic tending to have free carbonates in the soil profile, whereas free carbonates tend to absent in udic and perudic. Compare to USA Ust* and Ud* soils here.
  2. Augie Doggie was my nickname in highschool, acquired during frosh track. I have personality traits in common and have grown to really like the little cartoon fella. It never bothered me to be Augie back then partly because of the jovial way it was handed out, but also partly b/c I never got the physical part of the nickname until 10 years later when I met my future wife. A maker of shirts and pants, she pointed out that my legs (inseam) and arms are all nearly 3" too short for my height! Long torsos and thick thighs run in the family, so I somehow I never got it that I have short stubby legs
  3. Charcoal is fairly unigue as a soil resident conductor. While soil solution is an excellent conductor, especially if salty, few solid materials in soil conduct as well as charcoal. But charcoal is really a semiconductor - the current is carried along the surface only. Its a pretty good conductor if the surfaces are lined up, like in a carbon fiber hiking pole, yet not so reliable in the view of some (example). Yes. It's called electroculture and its got quite a history, sometime using some pretty impressive voltage, right up there with electric worm harvesting.:hyper: Toaldo proved that
  4. “We all should fall upon our knees and sing out praise for manganese” Richmond Bartlett 1995, at the introduction of his piece on Mn in Environmental Soil Chemistry, edited by Don Sparks. I spent 5 hours in deep discussion with Mark and Kim, 2 fellow biochar nuts, last Saturday. Kim is a follower of Bahá'u'lláh, so no beer (dang). Like me Mark is a waste-use soil scientist, Kim is a wastewater engineer. They work together and wanted to run Kim's latest theory about biochar by me, and I admit to be quite taken by the concept. Thanks to Bartlett, the three of us have share an appreciation
  5. Depends on the plant. Over 90% of the world's plant species have co-evolved with complementary mycorrhizal fungi and, absent fertilizing well in excess of uptake, require them for maximum productivity. Adding mycorrhyzal fungi inoculum is not needed if you are already sustaining a healthy population. The effects of adding mycorrhyzal fungi can range from dramatic, when you correctly match the fungi to the plant, to no effect if soil P levels are high, or if you recently tilled in a biofungicidal cover crop like mustard. Besides higher yields and healthier plants, irrigation requirements
  6. My adaptation was a pretty skinny adaptation of hugelkultur, but I certainly see your point. Thank you for pointing it out. A terra preta inspired adaptation of hugelkultur would be to use a 50:50 debris:charcoal mix. I look forward to the day when I have enough charcoal to try it.
  7. I did some very simple plots for a biosolids application a few years back. You can see the plots in Google maps! The feedback I got during the design phase was to have 3 replicates (Which I know you've said you don't have the resources for) and to randomize plot locations (less burdensome). I had a 3X3 arrangement, (vs your 6X1). I assigned each plot a sequential number of 1, 2, 3,...n. Then I used the random number generator in MS Excel (formula is "=RAND()") to assign a unique numerical ID value to each treatment, ranked them sequentially and assigned treatment-to-plot accordingly. You
  8. This is working out very nicely for me. By wetting up the charcoal, in combination with a cover for the bucket, the dust is well controlled. I especially appreciate the product's coarse grind: larger is more microhabitat friendly in my view. Output is about 3 liters per minute. Like I mentioned, I pretty much have to pre size the feedstock: anything larger than 2 cm has to be forced through the opening. The alternative is to remove the top piece but that is not per manuf specifications for use. Anyway, I mixed it with equal parts good soil (easy inoculate) and chicken manure and mixed it
  9. I am in Spokane. All our good dirt ended up in the Willamette Valley thanks to some big floods that went through here a few centuries ago. Serial jokulhaups. Whatever, we miss our dirt. Interesting on the S. I've always got a lot to learn, but speaking for myself, gypsum can come in pretty handy (clay soil with low Ca:Mg, for instance) and I would not reject using it based on a concern for added S harshing on the fungi. I suppose it depends on the rate and what the soil needs. Fungi are going to be adapted to a fairly substantial background S level in the soil because S is substantial co
  10. I went a different route this last weekend. After trying a cheap blender, and breaking it after running 3# of hard charcoal through it, I researched and decided on a small electric garden chipper/shredder. This is the McCulloch 14 amp chipper/shredder. It weighs 90#, and arrives Friday or so. I chose it specifically b/c it can discharge into a 5 gal bucket - all the other chippers discharge up and out - fine for wood chips, not for charcoal. I'll still use the mortar/pestle + screen step to get the size down. I'll probably step the charcoal's moisture content up to control dust. I use a
  11. Yes, that is the before picture from May 11th. I'll take a look again this spring, maybe run a 4' trench for a look-see across the bed.
  12. We were adding up our garden and realized that we got a lot of squash and zucchini production from one area. We harvested 80 pounds winter squash ("sweet potato" and "table queen" varieties of acorn squash), and 35 pounds of zucchini from one very small 16 square feet (planted, they took over a total area 10X that size). Granted it was the sunniest area, planted, and came up first, (another 30 SF planted to squash and melons produced biomass but near nothing to eat) but it had another interesting advantage which I am not sure how much credit to give it. We ran out of time to do it elsewhere.
  13. My analysis was done by USAg Analytical at 1320 E Spokane St, Pasco, WA 99301. 509-547-3838. I don't know if they have the USDA-APHIS certification to receive soil samples from oversees, but you should certainly be able to find similar labs in OZ. USAg's "complete" package: NO3-N, NH4-N, P, K, S, Ca, Mg, Na, B, Zn, Mn, Fe, Cu, OM%, pH, soluble salts (ECe) (USD$45) and added texture (USD$15) plus CEC (USD$20). Lime requirement (USD$15) can also be added. Control Labs in California has their soil prices posted. (much appreciated) Their complete is more complete (includes CEC, lime req
  14. I got the results back from the lab (top 12 inches = pH 6.8) and they don't support my field kit (pH 8.0). This makes total sense. :doh: Considering how long I've been nursing my bottle of indicator solution (stuff goes bad), I truly should have seen this coming. I hope my humble apologies for a premature and boneheaded call are acceptable. :shrug: Soil pH did come up from pH 6.5, but certainly not enough to cause any of the nutrient problems I was speculating on. In fact, the lab has available P at 53 mg/kg (10 is adequate), so even if I was to induce pH 8.0, I am unlikely to see P def
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