Soil Management Part 2 - Adding Potash
RSS Feeds Thursday, March 1, 2018

Recently, I addressed the pH of the soil in our fields and how we manage our pH by applying lime.  While lime affects the growth environment for plants by keeping the soil from becoming too acidic, we also periodically add nutrients back into the soil so that it does not become too depleted.

Managing our fields is imperative to raising strong horses.  Besides lime, we also spread potash on the fields, which is a fertilizer that contains potassium in a water-soluble form.  The “food” required by our plants is what most of you have already been aware of – N-P-K.  These are basic elements necessary for plant growth (N=Nitrogen / P=Phosphorous / K=Potassium.

From soil tests, we will see if the fields are deficient in any of these elements, individually, or together, and when we fertilize the fields, we can add the proper amount of any of these elements at the rate advised by the soil tests.  The individual characteristics of these elements are:

NITROGEN:  This element is key for growth.  It will push and stimulate short-term plant growth.  Nitrogen occurs naturally from the atmosphere and winter rains and snows bring it out during the season, which is why we get the immediate flush and quick growth of our pastures in the spring.

PHOSPHOROUS:  Phosphorous is known and used as a root stimulator. We use it when we transplant trees, shrubs, and potted plants to help the transplanted plant avoid shock from the disturbance to its roots during the moving process.

POTASSIUM:  This element is essential for plant growth.  While the addition of higher quantities of potassium will not stimulate growth, the lack of potassium will inhibit photosynthesis, thereby limiting plant growth and development.

When I addressed the things we can do to effect the fertility of our soils (in a previous article), the importance of phosphorous cannot be overemphasized.  When I was looking for a farm, I spent many hours walking the fields and examining soil maps as well as the soils themselves.  Silver Springs is a “gold mine” of minerals.  Throughout all of the fields on both the Cooper’s Run Division as well as the Brentsville Division we find small naturally-occurring traces of elemental phosphorous.  Is it any wonder the grass on Silver Springs is so lush and fast-growing.



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