Last week I posted a short message about this company, asking you to do a little homework. Bryn, CP, and Karen all have teased out some details that agree with my skepticism on how reliable this company is for soil testing and analysis. (See last Wednesday’s post and comments if you haven’t read them already.)
To back up a little bit, I received an email from LB last week, along with the attached soil test, analysis and recommendations. LB intends to do some “market gardening” and here are his questions:
1. Is there anything to this perspective? Understanding your soil and rl37 (a “Jack of all trades” product).
2. I “get” that I should not willy nilly spread compost over everything, but what in the attached recommendation (based on the soil analysis) should I follow (Note: Crescendo and Stimulate are no longer offered, but there are lots of other interesting products here.)
3. Have you read any peer reviewed research that supports their “High Brix” market garden approach that uses sugar content and refractive index to supposedly correlate to improved flavor and higher nutrient content in selected vegetables? I have heard of chefs using this to evaluate certain produce (carrots and tomatoes) in the market but nothing in a peer reviewed journal.”
Take a look at the linked report from IAL (from the second paragraph). This is a confusing analysis, as it combines traditional ppm measures with pounds/acre. (My understanding is that you can divide this latter number by 2 to get ppm.) However, pounds/acre only represents a portion of what’s actually available in the soil. It’s not an indication of how much, if any, of these nutrients to add. (If you’ve never seen U. Mass Amherst’s soil testing lab, take a look at their webpage, especially their fact sheets related to soil testing.)
What irks me is the recommendations (which are in the first table in the attached document). I’m not even sure of the rate – I assume it’s per acre, but who knows? And what is the purpose of all this stuff?
This company is heavily used by many people, including researchers (if you Google the name of the company along with site:.edu, you’ll find reference to articles and university reports that use their services.
Let’s have some discussion on this. I’m certainly not an expert on performing soil tests, but I’ve had enough of them done that I have a pretty good idea how to interpret them and their recommendations.