Do you use a penetrometer or some other measurement to test for compaction in your soils?

To get the best production, a farmer must know whether or not his farm soils are compacted. A penetrometer is one method used to quickly test the structure of your soil. Signs of compaction are water runoff or standing water in fields after a rain and lateral or limited root growth.

Tillage and excessive use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides cause the soil structure to collapse and kills the beneficial soil microbes living in the soil that are responsible for maintaining a stable soil aggregate structure. Conventional wisdom is that soil compaction is a result of heavy equipment being used on wet soils. This is certainly the cause of some compaction over parts of fields. When soils exhibit compaction across an entire field, the compaction is a result of farm management practices that tear apart soil aggregates (excessive tillage) and that are destructive to soil microbes (excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and leaving land fallow for extended periods).

“Aggregation is the key to revering soil compaction and restoring natural fertility to agricultural lands”
Dr. Christine Jones
Leading Soil Microbiologist and Consultant
Author – Nitrogen: The Double-Edged Sword

“One way to address soil compaction issues is to apply soil amendments that accelerate flocculation of clay particles in the soil. Amendments with high water-soluble calcium levels and Humates are recommended.”
Jerry Brunneti
Leading Regenerative Agriculture consultant
Author – The Farm As Ecosystem – Tapping Nature’s Reservoir – Biology, Geology, Diversity
CEO – Agri-Dynamics

“The calcium to magnesium ratio is the most important mineral relationship in the soil because it allows the soil to breathe. In the soil, calcium serves to aggregate and open up the soil. This allows the easy entry of all-important oxygen and the exit of CO2 for photosynthesis (gas exchange). Calcium effectively allows your soil to breathe.”
Graeme Sait
Leading Regenerative Agriculture Consultant
Owner – Nutri-Tech Solutions, Inc

While working in the potato industry, Gary Zimmer identified a tremendous variation in overall nutrient uptake based upon the type of calcium input involved. He reasoned that the difference in performance may be based upon the solubility of calcium from different sources, specifically ag lime, gypsum, and calcium nitrate. Lime and gypsum had never previously been evaluated in terms of solubility. Utilizing industrial tests from the cement industry, Gary was able to test the calcium solubility of ag lime and gypsum for the first time and compare them to calcium nitrate. The findings were something of a revelation. The testing revealed that ag lime contains 0.5% water-soluble calcium (10 lbs./ton), gypsum contains 1.5% water soluble calcium (30 lbs./ton) while calcium nitrate is 15.5% water-soluble calcium (310 lbs./ton). This means calcium nitrate has 10X as much water-soluble calcium as gypsum and 31X more water-soluble calcium than ag lime.
Gary Zimmer
Leading Regenerative Agriculture Consultant
Author – The Biological Farmer
Owner – Midwestern BioAG

The findings of the authors and regenerative agriculture experts above are the basis for the formulation of CaluSolv. Utilizing soil test results from over 1,300+ soil tests across 22 states, CaluSolv has determined that in excess of 90% of agricultural soils exhibit some level of soil compaction – most moderate to severe. CaluSolv is one of the only companies to utilize a water-soluble nutrient soil test to determine the water-soluble calcium to magnesium ratio. Typical soil tests do not test for water-soluble nutrients and only positively charged water-soluble cations such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and hydrogen are capable of attaching to clay particles to create soil micro-aggregates, which is the beginning basis for a stable soil aggregate structure.

University studies have shown that of the positively charge cations, only calcium and magnesium have an aggregative effect on soil particles (Rengasamy & Summer – 1998). Between the two, calcium has a much stronger flocculating power than magnesium. It was determined that calcium has a strongly aggregative effect while magnesium is only slightly aggregative. The other positively charged ions were so poor flocculating clay particles that they were determined to actually have a dispersive effect on clay particles. This is the reason why the water-soluble calcium to magnesium ratio is important in your soils. When the ratio is correct for the soil type, the calcium and magnesium hold the clay particles together and allow the formation of micro-aggregates. This provides an environment for bacteria to live and flourish. Bacteria also excrete a biofilm that further binds the micro-aggregates together.

Understanding that the key to reversing soil compaction is to restore soil aggregation, CaluSolv is a blend of calcium nitrate and Humates that is designed to accelerate the process of reversing soil compaction. CaluSolv also includes other materials designed to facilitate restoration of soil microbial communities and to provide crops with necessary and often deficient soil micronutrients essential to growing healthy and high yielding crops.