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Kathleen Marineau

California: Ditto with a well water test. Don't forget, what is in your irrigation water goes into your soil. It cost us over $100 to have our well water tested for contaminants, lead and arsenic, just to sell our house, in spite of having a whole house treatment system.

Here in WV our well water leaves rust in toilet bowls and no testing is required or expected.

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Soil science is complex, and this article just brushes the surface. I mean no offense; there really is no simple way to determine the details of every soil situation. The clay of one area can be extremely different from the clay of another area. The term clay refers to particle size and general characteristics, but natural fertility is primarily dependent on the rock origin of the clay. Do a search on your area's soil.

Loam does not refer to organic content. A LOAM is a combination of sand, silt and clay. pH is also first determined by rock origin of the soil, though higher rainfall can also decrease pH. Mineral NUTRIENTS can become unavailable at high or low pH ranges. Adding compost to soil mitigates extremes of soil texture and increases microbial life which adds to fertility.

EARTHWORMS indicate the presence of organic matter on or in the soil. They are not found in wet or desert soil, or areas where soil freezes deeply, though they can hibernate during drought. There are over 1000 species that can be divided into three groups based on where they live in the soil: litter dwellers, topsoil dwellers, and subsoil dwellers. In the U.S. some introduced species are considered INVASIVE and have caused damage to forested areas. The links will give you more complete information.

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In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes

I agree that the science of soil is very complex. Here is a link to a great primer on soil biology. Highly recommended, full of great info. Soil Biology Primer


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