WaterSOLV Analytical Necessities
Water, Soil and Tissue (Lab Analyses) 1/25/2021
Introduction: It’s not just for WaterSOLV, it’s agronomy in whole that needs to subscribe to these analytical necessities.
Understanding water and soil is a game changer in the world of agronomy. When you look at as many as we do; the sheer number of reports, the varying interpretations and recommendations, the actualities are stunning, so stunning that as we investigate and call to attention these things, the lab and agronomical recommendations and prescriptions appear to change for the better of our industry – the Grower! What we’re saying is that there is a big change in the industry you’ll see hereto. It’s always been there we’ve just not been seeing it this way or dealing with it in a new way like HCT and the WaterSOLV technology have created.
Conventional modality is trying to make infiltration and available nutrition and a lot of resources have been put towards pH reduction, CEC and SAR, force feeding calcium by acidification and gypsum, and trying to keep lines clean from biology. The new added phase is keeping coliforms and E. coli off and out of the food chain. We’re well versed in coliforms and E. coli in our Well-Klean© division, water chemistry and biology.
Background Highlights Dr. Walworth, Professor and Associate Head, Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona told us in the year 2015 to look at soil as a filter. Well over 10 years before that another doctor of water chemistry from one of the largest industrial water treatment companies in the world told us if we’d come up with a way to deal with “evaporative salts” (water drying forming scale) we’d change the world. That didn’t sink in for quite some time. Then we learned how scale crystals form (bicarbonate bonds, chloride bonds and valence bonds) and also ran across the study done at the University of California Davis (UC Davis) explaining the formation of insoluble evaporative salts with the use of sulfurous acids and gypsum. From there we learned about biofilms in soils, which we also experience in wells, and how they are formed, how they can block flow of water, nutrition and even oxygen, while the anoxic bacteria can exude deadly hydrogen sulfide gas – also toxic to vegetation. Lastly, of added significance, the over use of nitrogen to create crop vitality and yet when acidified can block oxygen, and the unsustainable means of dealing with chloride salts including sodium. These are the basics of water treatment in agronomy although HCT is more than likely the first company to bring forward the need for managing bacteria films, anoxicity and a continuous supply of oxygen to our soils to sustain an aerobic environment or perhaps prevent an anoxic environment from occurring.
Chronic Challenges of Agronomy These scenarios, and likely the sequences therein are likely and chronologic resemblance of what most growers have experienced over the past 6 - 12 years and it likely showed its most negative impact over the year of 2020 due to the lack of rain. Technically, due to the lack of water saturated with dissolved oxygen - rain. Note, rain does NOT flush salts that have already complexed, other than those salts that are extremely soluble – sodium and zinc. Rain also releases nitrogen. Rain mostly provides vegetation with H2O and dissolved oxygen, followed by the toxins of chlorides and sodium. The exchangeable salts built up in the soil do not typically reduce. The biofilms do not reduce either. Note also that dissolved oxygen and bacteria and biofilms are NOT in the analytical data we have subscribed to over decades.
Water Analyses These are pretty straight forward and we classify them into specific buckets.
The Scale Formers – also known as cementation, bound nutrients, carbonate salts usually bound by bicarbonate (the gas that is released when dissolving scale) but also by valence, the natural magnetism between certain elements, like calcium phosphate and potassium phosphate, calcium silicate (trace amounts of bicarbonate participate in the complex).
The Toxins – Usually bound with chloride; sodium, calcium, zinc, iron (ferric), even ammonium chloride (an expectorant in cough medicine).
The Biological Food Sources – Food for bacteria primarily include sulfur, sulfate, iron and manganese.
The Metals – Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Aluminum.
Then there are the Transient Indicators (implied impacts)
pH – You want it but we don’t need it. It is just an indicator of the hydrogen ion content implying acidity or alkalinity value but NOT nutrient availability.
TDS – the sum of the dissolved elements in the water. However, you could add a crystal of calcite and it would make no increase or decrease in the number. You can have the scale in the soil, but if it is not dissolved in the water then we assume it is not there, hence, an implied value.
Ec – the sum of electrical conductivity, implied water solvency. Similar to TDS.
CEC and SAR – definitely important when dealing in today’s world of using elements to move other elements where they need to be. NOT nearly important whatsoever when dealing with solubilization chemistry – i.e., moving water and nutrition through clay.
What’s missing! Oxygen content, Biomatter and Bacteria.
Water Analysis Interpretations What’s most important about all this criterion is how our soil is dealing with these elements. Is the plant getting the necessary nutrients through the plant, into the tissue, is it all the essential nutrients – the less soluble ones like Ca and P or just the extremely soluble toxins like Na and Cl? You’ll likely see plenty of N in the tissue but what about the Fe and Al that tends to get stuck without sufficient lime uptake?
At this point, all we have is the water data, we do not know how the soil is dealing with it. We can gleam the tendency of the soil based on this water;
Minerals Scale Formers – Cementation The more HCO3, CO3, (gasses) Ca, Mg, P and K, (highly insoluble) the more likely the water evaporates to dryness and forms scale. Keep in mind these are also measured in totality as part of the TDS or EC, these items are nutrients. But once they evaporate to dryness and absorb the gas, they form crystals that typically water does NOT dissolve, nor does rain! If they are evaporated salts of sulfurous acid and calcium sulfate / gypsum, they are insoluble to added sulfurous acid.
Note: Water will dissolve Na, but usually the soil is cemented where the Na can’t flush. Also remember Cl is usually complexed with Na, as well as Ca and Zn and I presume by valence is why B is usually almost always in the mix.
Microbes Metals Biology – Bacteria and Bio-films We can be assured in the majority of cases when there is an exponent of 3 or more bacteria in the water, and sufficient food source in the water or soil of sulfur, sulfate, iron or manganese, and the soil has infiltration, challenges, there is likely problem of bio-films (and perhaps cementation) that has accumulated in the soil and hindering infiltration as well as vitality, efficiencies and sustainability.
Chlorides Chloride Salts Where sodium is the most soluble mineral, zinc is the most soluble metals, N and H2O are perhaps more soluble than O2, and yet O2 is very soluble, surely, we are concerned with how much is in our water, but moreover how much of these soluble items concentrate in our soils to create toxicity. If they are so soluble, why are the concentrating in the soil? If we can’t get them through the soil, how do we get them through the vegetation?
Zn and N Both the levels of Zn (soluble metal) and NO3-N (soluble N) are important to know in the water so that we can reflect on what they are doing within the soil. If they accumulate in the soil there are infiltration issues to be identified.
Soil Analysis – Part 1 of 2 by Soil Paste Extraction (SPe) (Avail.)
When it comes time to understand what water is solubilizing for the vegetation to drink, this is your best test to understand the nutritional “availability” and need. But this is best case scenario when using lab water, better case scenario using actual source water. A lot, more like a TON, depends on your infiltration depth of moisture and available nutrition throughout that soil profile. Then, here comes the big game changer! The “fate” of the water, nutrition and the added treatment, are they going to be “sustainable” or will they add to the saturated matter in the soil, further plugging your “soil/filter”? Will they all be consumed, now or eventually by the plant, or become more matter complexed on my soil to have to deal with later – bound by carbonate, chloride, valence or feed biology in a negative way leading to slimes or anaerobic conditions – as is usually the case when dealing with sulfur, sulfate, sodium and chloride products (including treatments into ponds, i.e., copper sulfate – not good). Soil Paste Extractions are referred to as Avail. on analyses, and are a reasonably good indicator of the nutrition availability or deficiencies. However, it is best if they do the analyses using the untreated source water.
Buyer beware, these analytical reports subscribe to some pretty unique, individualistic practices for what is minimum, maximum, and necessary. It’s truly startling the references labs give which may involve aquaculture studies done in Florida 20 years ago to acidifying water in the Pacific Northwest without considering the soil conditions prescribed in the manual (NCRS/USDA manual as well). The other caveat is their recommendations to water of gypsum and sulfuric acid without regard for the soils being completely, problematically saturated with it. SPe’s are not thorough without looking at the total soil condition by Exchangeable, as well as considering the biology and oxygen.
Soil Analyses - Part 2 of 2 by Ammonium Acetate Extraction (AA) (Exch.)
While the soil paste extraction is done with water, lab, source or perhaps treated source water, the exchangeable method is done by ammonium acetate and also at a basic pH. That’s right, the chemistry breaks down all the elements in the water without pH reduction! BUT, does it break down all the elements? NO, it does not and that was proven most recently. We’ll show this further down.
If we have all these elements in our soil and they are “exchangeable”, why are we not exchanging them? These are unused nutrients, that in excess the NCRS/USDA call Nutritional Pollutants. You might view them in many ways; purchased and unused nutrients, components in the filter (soil) hindering the flow of water, oxygen and nutrition deteriorating vegetation vitality - Cementation, things hindering CEC and SAR, compaction, clay. I’d say the biggest things we see disturbing is the addition of more sulfur, more N and Ca utilizing sulfurous acids and gypsum and pond treatment adding copper sulfate, and where sulfurous acids contain a tremendous amount of Sulfur and Urea (N).
Year over year, more and more saturation, followed by the collection of chloride salts – Chloride and calcium, iron, sodium and zinc, valence bonds of boron and the collection of excessive N. Lower pH values, excessive H percentages, black layer settles in, and still nobody looking at the biology, the bacteria and oxygen. We then result to topical applications, physical aerification and sanding, all the while leaving a gold mine of nutrition in the filter that can turn into a biological hazard (usually evidenced by turf slosh and water not going down).
Summary You can look at the “buckets” in the SPe analyses the same as in the Exchangeables. We have to fix the Exchangeables for optimum, sustainable and efficient results. In most cases, the harvesting of excess exchangeables more than offset the current and long-term resources necessary to deal with the aftermath including frequency of aerification, sanding and tilling. Additional Topics to be Considered
Essential Nutrients & Replenish Rates
Flushing versus water to water