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Plant Nutrition and Soil Fertility Manual, Second Edition


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Dr. J. Benton Jones has written extensively on the topics of soil fertility and plant nutrition over his professional career. After obtaining a B.S. degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Illinois, he served on active duty in the U.S. Navy for two years. After discharge from active duty, he entered graduate school, obtaining M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Pennsylvania State University in agronomy. For 10 years, Dr. Jones held the position as research professor at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Centre (OARDC) in Wooster. During this time, his research activities focused on the relationship between soil fertility and plant nutrition. In 1967, he established the Ohio Plant Analysis Laboratory.

Joining the University of Georgia faculty in 1968, Dr. Jones designed and had built the Soil and Plant Analysis Service Laboratory building for the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, serving as its Director for 4 years. During the period from 1972 and his retirement in 1989, Dr. Jones held various research and administrative positions at the University of Georgia. Following retirement, he and a colleague established Micro-Macro Laboratory in Athens, Georgia, a laboratory providing analytical services for the assay of soils and plant tissues as well as water, fertilisers, and other similar agricultural substances.

Dr. Jones was the first President of the Soil and Plant Analysis Council and then served as its Secretary-Treasurer for a number of years. He established two international scientific journals, Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis and the Journal of Plant Nutrition, serving as their Executive Editors during the early years of publication.

Dr. Jones is considered an authority on applied plant physiology and the use of analytical methods for assessing the nutrient element status of rooting media and plants as a means for ensuring plant nutrient element sufficiency in both soil and soilless crop production settings.

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Table of Contents

Section I Introduction Management Requirements Productivity Factors Climatic Factors Moving Up the Yield Scale Product Quality Soil Fertility Principles Fertile Soil Defined Making and Keeping a Soil "Fertile" Biological Factors An "Ideal Soil" Soil Fertility Management Concepts Multiple Factor Yield Influence Soil Condition Related to Deficiency in a Major Element and Micronutrient Elemental Content of the Soil and Soil Solution Plant Nutrition Principles Photosynthesis The Function of Plants Determination of Essentiality Essential Element Content in Plants Classification of the Thirteen Essential Mineral Elements Role of the Essential Plant Nutrient Elements Plant Nutrient Element Sources Element Absorption and Translocation Elemental Accumulation Element Absorption and Plant Genetics Diagnostic Plant Symptoms of Essential Plant Nutrient Element Insufficiencies The Plant Root Introduction Root Function Root Hairs Lateral Roots The Rhizosphere Root Ion Absorption Root Crops How to be a Diagnostician The Diagnostic Approach Being a Diagnostician Diagnostic Factors Evaluating Diagnostic Procedures Scouting Weather Conditions Factors Affecting Essential Nutrient Element Concentrations in Plants Plant (Crop) Wilting Summary Certified Crop Advisor Programs Section II: Physical and Physiochemical Characteristics of Soil Soil Taxonomy, Horizontal Characteristics, and Clay Minerals Soil Orders (U.S. System of Soil Taxonomy) Designations for Soil Horizons and Layers Physical Properties of Soils Textural Classification Soil Separates or Primary Soil Separates Soil Separate Properties Soil Texture Characterization Definitions Soil Structure Tillage Practices Water-Holding Capacity Physiochemical Properties of Soil Soil Separate Properties Major Phyllosilicate Minerals in Soils Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) of a Soil Based on Texture Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) Determination of a Soil Anion Exchange Capacity Soil pH: Its Determination and Interpretation Definitions Causes of Soil Acidity Water pH Determination of Mineral Soil, Organic Soil, and Organic Soilless Rooting Media pH Determination using a Calibrated pH Meter Other Soil pH Determination Procedure Salt pH Determination for a Mineral Soil pH Interpretation: Mineral Soil pH Interpretation: Organic Soils pH Interpretation: Organic Soilless Medium Soil pH Constancy Plant Root Function Soil Acidity and NPK Fertilizer Efficiency Soil pH Effect on Elemental Availability and/or Soil Solution Composition Soil Buffer pH pH Determination of Water Soil Organic Matter Definitions of Soil Organic Matter and Its Components Humus Soil Organic Matter Characteristics Methods of Soil Organic Matter Determination Management Requirements for High Organic Matter Content Soils Adverse Affects of Organic Matter Additions Section III: Plant Elemental Requirements and Associated Elements Major Essential Plant Elements Terminology Methods of Expression Established Date for Essentiality/Researchers Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen Major Essential Element Properties Micronutrients Considered Essential to Plants Terminology Established Date for Essentiality/Researchers Content and Function Soil and Plant Species Associations Micronutrient Characteristics Micronutrient Properties Possible Additional Essential Micronutrients Elements Considered Beneficial to Plants The A to Z Nutrient Solution Elements Essential for Animals Basis for Essentiality for Beneficial Elements Potential Essential Elements "New" Beneficial Elements Element Substitution Form of Response Summary Elements Considered Toxic to Plants Introduction The Nature of Elemental Toxicity Aluminum and Copper Toxicity Other Elements Plant Species Factor The Heavy Metals Trace Elements Found in Plants Definition Elements Categorized as Trace Elements High Soil Content Elements Availability Factors Accumulator Plants and Elements Symbiotic Element Section IV: Methods of Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition Assessment Soil Testing Purposes Field Sampling Soil Laboratory Selection Laboratory Soil Testing Procedures Interpretation of a Soil Test Result Soil Test Result Tracking (Monitoring) Liming and Fertilizer Use Strategies Plant Analysis and Tissue Testing Plant Analysis Objectives Sequence of Procedures Sampling Techniques Plant Tissue Handling, Preparation, and Analysis Methods of Interpretation Word Classification of Elemental Concentrations As a Diagnostic Technique Experience Required Data Logging/Tracking of Plant Analyses Utilization of Plant Analyses for Nutrient Element Management Tissue Testing Indirect Evaluation Procedures Section V: Amendments for Soil Fertility Maintenance Lime and Liming Materials Liming Terms Liming Materials Liming Materials and Their Calcium Carbonate Equivalent (CCE) Mesh Size Quality Factor Designation Lime Requirement (LR) Soil Test Ratio of Ca to Mg Determines Form of Limestone to Apply Liming Rate Determined by Acidifying Effect of Fertilizer "Lime Shock" Lime Incorporation Depth of Incorporation Subsoil pH Inorganic Chemical Fertilizers and Their Properties Definitions Fertilizer Terminology Characteristics of the Major Elements as Fertilizer Conversion Factors for the Major Essential Fertilizer Elements Characteristics of the Micronutrients as Fertilizer The Physical and Chemical Properties of Fertilizers Naturally Occurring Inorganic Fertilizers Organic Fertilizers and Their Properties Value Composted Animal Manures Animal Manure Major Element Composition Other Organic Materials Soil and Plant Factors Fertilizer Placement Objectives Methods of Fertilizer Placement Soil Water, Irrigation, and Water Quality Soil Water Terminology Soil Factors Affecting Soil Water-Holding Capacity and Movement Drainage Irrigation Methods Irrigation Water Quality Water Treatment Procedures What is Water? Section VI: Methods of Soilless Plant Production Hydroponics Hydroponics Defined Historical Events Hydroponic Techniques Hydroponic Growing Systems Rooting Media Water Quality The Nutrient Solution Reagents and Nutrient Solution Formulations Concentration Range and Ratios pH Interpretation-Hydroponic Nutrient Solution Reconstitution of the Nutrient Solution Accumulation of Nutrient Elements and Precipitates Soilless Rooting and/or Growing Media Soilless Media Ingredients Soilless Media Formulations Physical Properties Physiochemical Properties Control of pH Use Formulations Bag Culture Systems "Fertility" Determination Procedure for an Organic Soilless Mix Section VII: Miscellaneous Organic Farming/Gardening Chemicalization of Crop Production "Organically Grown" Defined Suitable Inorganic Fertilizer Materials Suitable Organic Fertilizers Organic Soil Fertility Management Soil Physical Properties Food Safety and Quality Issues Weather and Climatic Conditions Definitions Climatic Factors Weather as a Diagnostic Factor Best Management Practices (BMPs) Origin Best Management Practice Application Broadened Best Practice Important Protocol Considerations Precision Farming Section Appendices Glossary Formulation and Use of Soil Extraction Reagents Preparation Procedures and Elemental Content Determination for Plant Tissue Weights and Measures Reference Books and Texts References Index

About the Author

J. Benton Jones, Jr. is Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia. He is President of GroSystems, Inc., a consulting company. He has authored 8 books and is continuing to publish articles on hydroponics and plant nutrition. He is a member of the Clemson University faculty and is assisting with the revision of soil test-based lime and fertilizer recommendations and providing guidance in soil fertility/plant nutrition inquiries.


Praise for the First Edition "This book has the admirable quality of being both organized to facilitate rapid look-up of information and being written in a readable style." -The Growing EDGE (out of print)

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