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Welcome to Dr. Dirt's Diggings, otherwise known as Paskvan Consulting's blog!
This, the world's only blog dedicated to concerns and issues related to soil fertility,
is a forum for news and discussion concerning soil testing, water irrigation issues,
fertilization and the environment--or any issue related to these.
If you have a question related to soil fertility or soil tests, e-mail me at

or use the form on the "Contact" page. I'll post your question
(anonymously if you'd like) and comment on it.

Dr. Dirt's Diggings
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July 15, 2006 6:58 am - Beating summer heat

The heat of summer is definitely upon us now. This is the time that most of us dread. Summer heat is usually met with root decline. One of the ways to get through the heat of the summer is through the generous use of potassium. As the policeman in the plant system potassium has many roles. Two roles among others that potassium plays is getting the nutrients that are being made during photosynthesis to the parts of the plant that need that nutrition. Another vital role potassium plays is in drought tolerance. It's times like right now where we are suffering from high heat and little rainfall that we need to make sure that there is enough potassium in the soil to make sure the turf can take it up. How much is enough? Roughly 4.5% of your cation exchange capacity will get you in the ball park. Factors such as the amount of sodium in your profile and the quality of your irrigation water may affect the concentration of potassium. Soil tests that give base saturation percentages and cation exchange capacities along with soil paste tests are an excellent place to start. Generous application of a granular in the spring is a good place to start. Beginning in the heat of the summer you may want to put down a slow release. The key is to make sure that you have enough potassium in your soils to begin with. On most of our soils tests, there is not enough potassium in the soils. Potassium can be very leachable. A good down pour can release much of your potassium so a good rule of thumb is to apply potassium after you have had a one inch rainfall. Remember, proper nutrition is the key to healthier plants.


Craig Paskvan

April 16, 2005 11:01 am - Ceramics and putting greens

If you are doing any top dressing or work on your greens with ceramics (Profile, Ecolite, Etc,) then what I have to say may want to to sit up and take notice. It appears that these ceramics are either made up of potassium or hold on to potassium very tightly and they are fooling the soils tests.

It appears from those superintendents that are using these ceramics, that the soils tests comes back showing very good levels of potassium in the rootmix. In fact some cases are showing that no potassium needs to be applied at all from the normal maintenance program, and yet, during the course of the growing season the plants show a potassium deficiency as well as on the standard tissues test.

The concern came about from consultants who where seeing this in the field and were questioning what was going on. Mark Flock who is the lab director at Brookside labs took some of this material and began to look at the effects of it. What he saw was that then these ceramics were subjected to a normal soils tests with the Mellic III extraction, the soils report showed very good levels of potassium. When the same samples where placed in a paste test, the test results showed very little potassium available in the soil solution. The work Mark Flock did appeared to show that the Mellic III extraction was strong enough to separate the potassium from the ceramics and show up on a soils report, but the water used in a paste test was not strong enough to separate the potassium from the ceramics. Apparently, the acid given off by the root hair is not strong enough either to separate the potassium from the ceramics.

If you are using or have been using ceramics on your greens and are seeing some of these same type of results, I would encourage you to supplement you normal soils testing program with some paste tests. The paste test will show you what is available in your soil solution for you plants and will help you make better decisions for your turf.


Craig Paskvan

Paskvan Consulting
Take charge of your turf!

April 2, 2005 4:55 pm - Syngenta's Primo

Primo by Syngenta

During the recent mini seminar in Minnesota this March, the morning topic was about Primo, and how superintendents where using it. There seemed to be a wide range of application rates with the product. Some superintendents were applying it at a rate of 0.08 oz/ 1000 sq.ft, while others where at 0.15 and still others at 0.023. As we broke into small discussion groups, I raised the question if Primo was influenced by water quality. No one in the group or University personel seemed to think so. Knowing that most herbicides and pesticides are influenced by water quality, we researched the question of Primo and water quality.

The first Thing we did was contact other turf consultants. Although all agreed that a lower pH water made a lot of sense, no one hand a concrete answer. We then turned to Syngenta's web page. There, under their own Material Safety Data Sheet, under item 12, Primo is listed as "stable in a sterile water, in the dark, at a pH between 5 &7". Therefore it appears that Primo is not only affected by water quality, but also by direct sunlight.

Our advice based upon Syngenta's own Materials Safety Data Sheet would be to acidity your spray tank before you add Primo. I would look at acidifying your tank down to a pH of 6.5. That should give the active ingredient in Primo a better chance of doing the job you want done.

Lowering the water pH should give you better results which should transfer to saving you money on your applications. Good Luck!


Craig Paskvan
Paskvan Consulting
Take charge of your turf!

March 5, 2005 8:31 am - Crow River Country Club


It appears that fall is here and many of you are putting on your fall fertilizer applications and getting ready to blow out your irrigation lines in the next few weeks. As you are doing that I want to draw you attention to what Kevin Froemming is doing at the Crow River Country Club located in Hutchinson Minnesota.

This year Kevin has been using compost and sewage sludge as his fertilizer program. This spring Kevin and I sat down and outlined how and when he was going to apply this. He applied the compost and sewage sludge half and half to the tees and fairways, and the sewage sludge alone to the greens. We have been down twice since he began the applications and I can tell you the course has never looked better. The color and the stand density are absolutely beautiful and the membership is very supportive.

Kevin will be applying his last applications the end of September and the first week in October. He has set aside October 5th for anyone who would be willing to come down, observe the mixing and application procedure and Kevin will be available to answer any questions anyone may have. We have attentively set the time up for around 9:00 AM. If anyone is interested in using compost or sludge as fertilizer, I would highly recommend that you see this in action or talk to Kevin personally.

One more thing. The U.S.G.A. Green Section September-October Issue has a very good article entitled “The Right Consultant is a Valuable Resource.” I enjoyed the article and would encourage anyone in the golf course profession to take a look at it.

If you have any questions regarding any of this, please feel free to contact either Kevin or me.


Craig Paskvan
Paskvan Consulting
Take charge of your Turf!

March 5, 2005 8:29 am - Kings Walk

Grand Forks Herald

Monday, Jul 26, 2004

Posted on Wed, Jul. 14, 2004

RECREATION: Greener pastures for King's Walk?

Soils consultant helps shore up grass growth

By Ryan Bakken

Herald Staff Writer

A soils consultant has presented a three-prong plan for improving the grass growth on portions of King's Walk Golf Course in Grand Forks.

Paskvan Consulting of Akeley, Minn., has recommended changes in fertilization, aeration and drainage for improved fairways and greens on the Arnold Palmer signature course, which is in its third summer of play. While most of the municipally owned course is in good condition, portions of the layout has inconsistent growth, damaging its image as a top-shelf course.

Soil alkalinity has been assumed to be the base of the problem, but it's more complicated than that, said consultant Craig Paskvan and Bill Voigt, King's Walk superintendent.

"It's not bad soil," Voigt said. "Where we have a lot of topsoil, we have great grass. But we have areas without enough topsoil. Those bad spots are on the last holes that were built. Whether they ran short of topsoil, I don't know."

One plan is to loosen the soils with aeration. The soils are compacted, meaning rainfall and irrigation runs off rather than being soaked into the ground, Voigt said. "We want to capture as much of that water as we can," he said.

Improved drainage also will lead to leaching some excess chemicals magnesium and sulfur out of the soil.

The recommendations also include different fertilizers.

Paskvan said he also has "significant concerns" with the irrigation water used on King's Walk. It has a high alkaline content, according to testing.

The water is drawn from the Red River, but sits in a lake on the course before being pulled out for irrigation. There is speculation that the soil at the bottom of the lake might be alkaline.

Paskvan recommends monitoring the water quality at least monthly.

"Treating this water needs to be a viable option," he said. "However, we need to implement the fertilizer, aerification and drainage recommendations first before looking at the water.

"I have no doubt that these soils can be turned around."

Voigt said that the fixes won't be expensive or complicated to execute.

"It's fixable," he said. "We will see some immediate results, but it will be a long-term plan. There are no quick fixes with soil problems."

March 5, 2005 8:27 am - San Diego

At the San Diego Meeting the research committee has come down with the following changes for 2004. They are:
1. The USGA is going to stick with the 30 cm tension reading instead of going to the 40 cm tension reading. Eventually, there is talk of going back to the 40 cm tension reading, but when, I don't know.
2. There is no ban on inorganic amendments for new greens construction. That is to be left up to the consultant.
3. There is no ban on the amount of calcareous sand used in new greens construction. That is to be left up to the consultant as well, However, there will be risk assessments. they are:
0-10% Caco3 low rish
11-30% Cac03 medium risk
30% plus High risk.

4. The 12" +/- .5 inch spec for greens depth tolerance will change to 12" +/- 1 inch.
5. Perc test will go to 6+ inches/hr, and have no upper limit. Upper limit is to be determined by the consultant.
6. There is no change in the coefficient for gravels.
7. There will be no organic matter guideline. That will be left up to the consultant to decide the best level for that particular location.
8. The research on a better bunker sand evaluation testing will be getting started. No date on when that will be completed.

It appears from the actions and tone of the meeting that the guidelines are being put back in the hands of the labs and consultants.

March 2005 « 
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