Frequently Asked Questions
If you haven't already, check out some helpful videos here!
How does Soil Savvy™ compare to a soil test from my county extension agency?
Soil Savvy™ uses patented ion-exchange resins which exchange hydrogen (H+) and hydroxide (OH‑) for 14 essential plant nutrients within your soil. These 14 nutrients that Soil Savvy™ detects are the bio-available forms, meaning they are the forms of nutrients which are readily available to your plant. Soil Savvy™ simulates a plant root and only uses field-moist soils for analysis.
Standard soil tests don’t accurately represent the amount of bio-available nutrients within your soil. They show total nutrient but not what amount is currently available for plant uptake (bioavailable). The process of a standard soil test changes the natural chemistries of your soil through a process which requires the soil to be dried and then ground into a fine aggregate to remove the majority of the organic compounds (leaves, roots, mycorrhizae, etc). The soil is then exposed to chemicals, which are used in the analytical process to determine the total amount of nutrients within your soil. Through this process, certain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are removed, or volatized, when exposed to the high temperature during the drying process. You can read more about the comparison of Nitrogen and its effects when dried and ground [here]. You can see how 70 years of using the standard soil test for nitrogen analysis has resulted in an excess of over application on farmlands. This over application has negative environmental impacts found in large watersheds, such as Lake Erie, The Chesapeake Bay, and The Gulf of Mexico, where large dead zones from inadequate nutrients pollute the fragile ecosystems.
That's not to say the standard soil test is invalid. There are plenty of uses for the standard soil test, which include knowing the total pool of nutrients within your soil so that it can be compared to the bio-available nutrients detected by Soil Savvy™. This can be very beneficial when choosing an inoculant over a fertilizer to boost the available nutrients tied up within soil colloids.
What if I want to use a different fertilizer?
It is fine to use a different fertilizer, but some calculations will need to be made. The number listed on the bag represents the percentage of three nutrients, N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) in each bag. For example, 16-16-16 is 16% Nitrogen, 16% Phosphorus and 16% Potassium.
The recommendation 16-16-16 @ 3lbs per 1000sq ft will be proportionate to any other fertilizer. If you wish to use or have easier access to 8-8-8, for instance, a rate of 6lbs will be used. The application rate is proportionate to the recommendation we provide. If you want to use 8-4-4 this will also be okay, but you will need to use nitrogen as the limiting nutrient. Nitrogen and phosphorus are both environmentally sensitive and not recommended for over application. For example, 8-4-4 fertilizer has 8% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus and 4% potassium. This product has the highest percentage of nitrogen, which will limit the application amounts of both phosphorus and potassium. Effectively cutting your recommended application rate in half for both phosphorus and potassium, due to the avoidance of nitrogen over application. The 8-4-4 application rate would be 6lbs per 1000sq ft just as if you were applying the 8-8-8.
So how is this found? Take the application 3lbs divide it by the 16% (3/.16 = .48) you get .48 This is the amount of nitrogen in lbs that needs to be applied per 1000 sq ft. Then take the .48 and divide it by the fertilizer you have 8-8-8 or 8% (.48/.08 = 6) you get 6lbs.
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My pH levels are too high?
We recommend applying the fertilizer amendment provided with your report. In most cases this will help reduce high pH levels.
If you are regularly testing (every 3-6 months) and your soil pH is still high, applying ammonium sulfate or elemental sulfur will lower your pH. For ammonium sulfate application, follow manufacturers suggested rates. Soil pH is something that takes a long time to amend, often requiring multiple applications and maintenance for years. We highly recommend monitoring your soil every 3-6 months. It is important to note that pH is logarithmic, meaning 1 pH point increase or decrease is 10 times more acidic or basic.
I don’t understand what this report means?
The graph on the report shows the level of each of 14 essential nutrients that are plant available in your soil. The graph shows the ideal level at which each of your nutrients should be at for adequate plant health. This is information some of our kit users find interesting.
The most important thing to understand is the fertilizer recommendation. The recommendation is based on the plant available levels of 14 essential nutrients in your soil compared with what your plant needs. The recommendation provided is for NPK. N is Nitrogen, P is Phosphorus, and K is Potassium. If your recommendation reads 10-16-20 @ 1lb/100 sq. ft, you will need 10% N, 16% P, and 20% K at 1 pound per 100 square feet for your yard or garden. But don’t worry, we did all the math for you. Just run down to your local lawn and garden store or find the provided fertilizer online and apply 1 pound of that 10-16-20 fertilizer for a 100 sq. ft section of ground.
To Figure out the area you will be fertilizing, grab a tape measure or measuring wheel and measure your area. For instance, if your garden is 16 ft by 12.5ft, multiply 16 x 12.5 and you get 200 sq. ft. For 200 sq. ft you will then need to apply 2lbs of 10-16-20 fertilizer (because the recommendation is 1lb per 100sq. ft).
If you have an irregularly shaped yard, we recommend watching this video by Allyn “The Lawncare Nut” Hayne.
If your plant available nutrient levels are sufficient, then there will not be a fertilizer recommendation.
For more information on how to understand your report, watch these videos.
My micronutrients look too low, what should I do?
N-P-K are your most important nutrients for plant growth and often adding these in recommended amounts will remedy any micronutrient issues. Micronutrient additions can be costly and don’t always result in better growth or healthier plants. If issues persist, look toward micro-nutrient fertilizers that closely match the deficiencies.
My pH levels are too low?
We recommend applying the fertilizer amendment provided with your report. In most cases this will help raise low pH levels.
If you are regularly testing (every 3-6 months) and your soil pH is still too low, applying lime will help raise your pH. There are two types of lime to choose from, dolomitic and calcitic lime. Dolomitic lime is great to increase your pH along with helping to increase Magnesium (Mg) if it is found to be low. Calcitic lime is great for adjusting pH without increasing Magnesium (Mg)For lime application, follow manufacturers suggested rates. Soil pH is something that takes a long time to amend, often requiring multiple applications and maintenance for years. We highly recommend monitoring your soil every 3-6 months. It is important to note that, pH is logarithmic, meaning 1 pH point increase or decrease is 10 times more acidic or basic.
My nutrient levels are adequate, but I still can’t grow anything?
Some considerations as to why you may be having issues:
Water cycles are very important, especially during heat stress times.
Try not to fertilize during the times plants are stressed. This is commonly due to heat stress.
Fertilizer applications should be split up at least 2-months apart.
Applications of potassium over 4lbs per 1000sq ft should be broken up into multiple applications. For example, a 0-0-60 @ 10lbs per 1000sq ft should be broken up in a minimum of 3 applications.
Can I use an inoculant to increase my nutrient levels within my soil?
Yes, inoculants are used all the time to help promote nutrient availability within your soil. Key for nutrient cycling, inoculants such as microbes help promote biological growth. Bacteria and mycorrhizae breakdown organic matter and produce beneficial nutrients that plants need to grow. By applying inoculants, you are promoting the growth of these bacteria and fungi. If you want to read more about microbes, biologicals, compost tea, and more, we highly recommend checking out Kis Organics.