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December 11, 2004

Amendments (Soil not Constitutional)

As noted a few entries ago, Doug had been out to the vineyard to take soil samples, which were sent off to the lab for analysis.

View analysis page 1
View analysis page 2

Off the top of my head I do recall that we needed to spread lime at 1.5 tons per acre, and a fertilizer mix at 415 lbs per acre. In order to properly apply the amendments, we needed to get a spreader for the back of the tractor - have a look.

The spreader has a capacity of 500 lbs, so spreading 11,000 lbs of lime and fertilzer took a few trips! The key to accurate spreading is the settings on the spreader, which similar to a small rotary yard spreader control the width of the chute opening which controls the amount of fertilizer that reaches the spinner. The first few passes were experimental to get the tractor speed and spreader settings correct. Each is dependent on the other - tractor moving too quickly or the spreader not open enough means that insufficient fertilizer is spread. Conversely, the tractor moving too slowly or the spreader open too wide means that too much fertilizer is spread.

So you make an educated guess based on the application rate matrix provided with the spreader, and the mph table on the tractor. Long story short I ended up spreading the lime in high/first gear (3.9 mph) with the spreader set on setting '8'. The spreader throws the lime a total width of 60' and I was able to make it down our 400' rows using a total of 480 lbs of lime. So since our rows are spaced at 9' I just went over 6 rows and spread the next load, then back over each section using alternate rows to ensure an even spread.

Once the lime was done the fertilzer was spread at the same speed, although at a lower spreader setting of '6' and since the lbs per acre worked out nicely with the spreader capacity, it only took three trips through the vineyard to complete the fertilizer.

Thankfully our fertilizer provider - Tri-County Farm Services - was kind enough to just park the flatbed with the pallets at our vineyard for the weekend. That was a HUGE timesaver, since it was so easy to back the tractor up to the side of the flatbed and pour the bags in (the lime came in 40-lb bags and the fertilizer in 50-lb bags.) I can't imagine having to lift that many bags up to pour into the spreader from ground-level - not fun...

So we're feeling pretty good about our first whack at soil amendments. The math worked out really well and our choice of tools proved sufficient for the scale of our current operation. I don't foresee being able to use bags of lime for any larger project - have to go bulk once we grow beyond three acres, but for now it went about as well as I could have hoped!

View the final invoice

Posted by Stephen at December 11, 2004 6:28 PM


This is fascinating. :) Cool stuff!!!

Posted by: Brian at January 1, 2005 10:54 PM