Continued from

Page 20

reported at the same

level on both tests

which likely will

not be true either.

If the farmer wants

to use a different

test, he will have

to work to find the

right percentages

or find someone he

can trust to do it for



Magnesium seems

perhaps the best

example of all to

use for testing

the accuracy of

a soil test and to

demonstrate how

exact a soil test can

be when used to

determine a soil’s

true fertility. A

seldom recognized,

rarely acknowledged

and extremely

costly condition

in agriculture is

how excessive

magnesium in

the soil results

in a magnesium

deficiency in

food and feed crops—even those that

are organically grown. This is well

demonstrated based on the soil testing

methods used by Dr. William Albrecht

all the way back in the early to middle

parts of the last century.

In addition, Dr. Albrecht taught that

soils should contain at least 10 percent

magnesium to assure that plants could

take up an adequate amount from the

soil. He maintained that any soil with

less than 10 percent magnesium would

only grow magnesium deficient plants.

This holds true on any soil tests that

matches the ability of the test he used

to determine magnesium content in the

soil. But again, there are soil labs whose

methods for determining magnesium

are different and when compared

to the test Dr. Albrecht used, these

soil tests show 8 percent magnesium

when the one he used showed 10

percent. So again, due to differences in

measurements, there are those who still

maintain that magnesium testing is not

On any part of the field where magnesium availability drops

below 10 percent, the tops on carrots will die prematurely.

Photo by Neal Kinsey, Kinsey Ag Service.

that useful.

But there is a way to show just how

exact that 10 percent figure actually

is, when determined the same way Dr.

Albrecht did it and then applied to

needed magnesium levels for carrot

production. This has been shown time

after time, and year after year, since the

time he taught how to measure and

interpret the content of magnesium

in the soil. In carrots grown from the

East Coast to the West Coast and all in

between, in both the US and Canada,

this can be counted on to happen for

those growing carrots. On any part of

the field where magnesium availability

drops below 10 percent, the tops on

carrots will die pre-maturely in the field

if the test being used reflects exactly

what the test Dr. Albrecht used does. If

a test gives another answer, then when

sampled and analyzed based on the

same procedures used by Dr. Albrecht,

the soil has less than 10 percent


Accuracy of Soil


Some still claim a

soil test is only to

point the farmer in

the right direction,

but cannot be

used for specific

measurements. If so,

they are using the

wrong soil test or

else have not been

properly taught about

how to understand

and interpret one that

actually works.

Just remember one

thing, the advice

from a soil test is only

as accurate as the

sample that is taken

and sent for analysis.

So long as the soil

sample is taken in

a way to accurately

represent the soil in

each field, the soil

test will provide the

proper information

needed to show what

needs to be done.

When properly taken

and interpreted, the

soil test is just like

a reliable road map. An accurate soil

test shows the path needed to reach the

point in terms of soil fertility where the

farmer or grower needs to be.

You can only properly manage the

things you can properly measure. Be

sure the soil tests you use are telling you

what you need to know to achieve both

excellent yields and excellent quality.

Neal Kinsey is owner and President of

Kinsey Agricultural Services, a consulting

firm that specializes in restoring and

maintaining balanced soil fertility for

attaining excellent yields while growing

highly nutritious food and feed crops on

the land. Please call 573-683-3880 or see for more information.

Comments about this article? We want

to hear from you. Feel free to email us at


Organic Farmer April/May 2019

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