Soil test results.....need opinions of how to raise Nitrogen but not K and P.....organically, of course.


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Did my soil test of my garden beds. They are elevated beds with soil (square food garden method 1/3, 1/3, 1/3). I've added compost to my best every year and they are going on their 8th year. Always produce strong vegetables. Per my soil tests (see photo), pH is 7.5; K and P are very strong--almost too strong--and N is near zero. I would have added compost again this year (chicken manure and mushroom compost) but I wonder if I need only to add a natural form of N so I don't keep adding to the P and K. I believe Potash and Phosphorus build as you add organic composts like the above mentioned. Any thoughts?

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Of course synthetic Urea (CO(NH2)2) is an organic fertilizer, but that probably isn't what you mean. You mean a non-synthetic fertilizer.

How about planting Nitrogen-fixing plants, such as Legumes (Fabaceae)? The Nitrogen will be fixed as Ammoniam which is an inorganic compound, but it will be produced "naturally".
 
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Marck: That would be a good idea to help for next year. So that will be considered; however, for this planting I'm seeking an N solution this spring/summer. I was thinking about bone meal or feather meal. I've never used either. Curious if people have had success with either.
 
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I have found bone meal to work well. Apparently it was first noticed by a fox hunting squire that where his dogs gnawed bones the grass grew greener. It is a fairly long term solution, blood fish and bone is quicker if you want immediate results, I have never come across feather meal.
 
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Blood meal would be my choice. It has an N value of 12 and is totally organic.
 

Meadowlark

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Any thoughts?
Yes...it is something I have thought about for many years. More significantly to me, it is something which I have actively pursued hands on in my garden by running numerous "experiments", all trying to find the best natural sources for Nitrogen and for overall soil health and well being.

Before listing out my preferred change agents a couple of comments.

1) it isn't a short-term effort or shouldn't be viewed as such. Rather, it should be a lifetime commitment or failing that as long as you can,

2) it isn't just about NPK. Micronutrients are also very important and soil tests are the best to determine your situation.

One more comment before giving you my list of preferred change agents: soil renovation/maintenance accomplished through the use of so-called cover crops is the absolute best, most effective method. It would take me many pages of text to elaborate on the experiments I have conducted and am still conducting on rebuilding soil NPK and micronutrients through the use of cover crops. You can find some of those results on this Forum, if interested

Now, my list, absent what I consider by far the most superior agent, cover crops.

1) alfalfa meal
2) bone and blood meal
3) fish emulsion
4) manure
5) coffee grounds
6) grass clippings/leaves
 
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Thank you, Meadowlark and others.

I'm going to give Soybean Meal Fertilizer 7-1-2 a try this year and complement it with a few bags of compost, as per usual. While I don't want to believe the Nitrogen test too much, it does concern me that it read nothing. Last year I was successfully able to grow indeterminate tomatoes over 8 feet tall with 30 to 40 tomatoes on each. Fantastic harvest. Some may ask how could I do that with a soil at near 0 Nitrogen....my guess is perhaps the compost I've been adding every year simply is supplying all the tomatoes need.

I also grew a great harvest of beans, radishes and thriving chard as well as most common herbs (parsley, basil, etc). So I have to ask myself, perhaps I keep adding compost each year and if I keep having success--ignore the soil test? I mean are not current results more important than what a test would tell me? Lastly, I didn't decide to test because my garden struggles, I tested to try to avoid a pending problem that would be coming and to see if my pH was under control.

Here is what 3 of my tomato plants were producing by the end of August '21
 

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Meadowlark

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I am a huge fan of soil testing...not just NPK but micronutrients as well. It is the key tool for helping me determine which soil amendments work best.
 
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Nitrogen can vary widely over the course of a year and crop removal does take a lot out...
However, it's also possible the reagent in the Nitrogen test was a dud.

The original question was what "organic" fertilizers would add Nitrogen without adding Phosphorus or Potassium.

Reasonable choices would be Blood Meal (12-1.5-o.5) and Fish Emulsion (4 to 5 -1-1) being high nitrogen fertilizers.
Though they will also add some more of the other nutrients as well.

Alfalfa Meal (2.5-0.5-2.5) adds as much Potassium as Nitrogen.

As for Bone Meal, with a NPK of 3-15-0 I'm not certain how it came into discussion.

To test for micro-nutrients send samples to a professional soil lab.
 
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Meadowlark

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How do you test micro-nutrients?
THanson,

The lab I use tests for the following:
1) ph
2) total nitrogen
3) nitrate
4) ammonium
5) phosphorus
6) potassium
7) sulfur
8) calcium
9) magnesium
10) sodium
11) iron
12) manganese
13) zinc
14) copper
15) boron

As an example, several years ago, I was struggling with growing perfect cauliflower. A soil test showed very low levels of boron in my soil. Sprinkle some borax around the plants and presto perfect cauliflower. I could give numerous other examples.
 
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