Adjusting nutrient levels in your soil can be done many different ways with many different soil amendments. Most soils need some kind of balancing with either macro or micro nutrients at some point in it's lifetime. Knowing that organic growers need a broad choice of amendments at reasonable prices has lead us to curate an ever growing range of organic soil amendments.
As soil testing has gained popularity in the natural soil market, the need for natural and organic products to make adjustments has grown. Back in the day organic farmers thought all you had to do was add animal manure compost every year for a healthy soil. We now know there is a lot more to it than that, and adding to much compost can actually be detrimental and cost prohibitive.
Depending on your type or style of growing there are many different ways to factor in what amendments would be best for your particular soil situation. The obvious first choice is to get a soil test from a reputable lab, and base your needs off of that. That being said, there are instances where a soil test isn't necessarily needed, and you can use the environment and the plant to help guide you.
A good example of reading a plant is a tomato plant with blossom end rot. Blossom end rot is due to lack of calcium, and the addition of gypsum can help to cure this issue. In hemp and marijuana light green growth in the vegetative stage can indicate a need for more nitrogen. Neither of these examples will give you exact ratios or amounts needed for correction, but typically for the small scale grower they will help to lead you to the right soil amendment for your needs.
Soil testing for deficiencies will give you the exact amount of nutrients that are in the soil along with recommendations if asked for. This brings us to another point that isn't talked about much, all soil labs use different paradigms for balancing soil nutrients. A soil test isn't just a soil test. If you send a soil test to 10 different labs you may end up with 10 different results, and the same amount of recommendations.
When choosing a soil testing facility, price can be one of the first considerations. With that in mind, local extension offices will do free, or really inexpensive testing. These tests are usually limited to a few macro-nutrients, and possibly ph. For more extensive testing including ec, organic matter, micro-nutrients, heavy metals, etc.. you will need to find a private laboratory that specializes in these types of tests.
When doing more extensive testing and asking for recommendations you will want to choose a lab that you agree with their “soil balancing paradigm.” As stated before, most every lab will give different recommendations based off of their agronomists insights to your soil analysis results. Most labs recommendations will help you balance your soil even if you are an absolute rookie.
Now, when we bring Korean Natural Farming into the picture, we throw all of this soil testing info out the door. Yes you can run KNF and do soil tests, but most people running knf will rely on self-made inputs to help keep the soil biology functioning at a high level so that running into deficiencies isn't as likely. We have personally run soil for many years, inside, outside, in containers, and in soil beds, and haven't done any testing on any of the soil. We rely on the soil microbiology to help nutrient cycle the amendments that we add after each cycle.
In our outdoor raised beds we will spread what we feel is a balanced amount of amendments out in the fall or very early spring. This way they have began to be broken down by the time planting season happens. We don't do hard measurements, or worry to much about amounts. We focus more on a broad selection of amendments to make sure all nutrients macro and micro are covered.
The same idea can be used indoors in containers with hemp or marijuana. The only difference indoors is the addition of worms, insects, nematodes, and cover crops will help you to mimic the outdoors in a way that you can use the same principles to re-amend your containers in a way that cuts out, or cuts down soil testing needs.
Even when using knf style inputs, and practices it's not a bad idea to pull a soil test once a year or so. Especially if your livelihood depends on it. For the personal home grower this may be something they feel they can skip. This is why running Redbud no-till organic soils™ is gaining popularity with so many people.
Regardless of the methods you use to direct you toward the best way to balance your soil, having a wide range of options at reasonable prices is key. Not everyone lives in a place where that has a huge selection of organic and natural soil amendments. That's why we spend so much time sourcing as many soil balancing products as possible to curate a selection that can help to balance most any soil issues.
Whether you need more nitrogen and want to add some alfalfa meal, or you are looking to add micro-nutrients with adding in some kelp meal, Redbud Soil Companies ever growing selection of organic amendments will help you keep your soil health in an optimum range so that your plants will thrive and not just survive.
Research has shown that a healthy plant is resistant to mold, pests, etc.. This is why you can have a healthy field that isn't touched by pests and an unhealthy field next to it that is taken over. The same goes with mold and pathogens. Keeping you plants healthy via microbially active soil with plenty of necessary nutrients can act as a way to protect your crops from mother nature.
Building organic matter is key to a healthy organic soil. There are many methods and reasonings why people do what they do to buildup organic matter, but it is essential to the longevity of a balanced soil. Adding in rock dusts, straw, compost, wood chips, etc.. are all ways to increase organic matter and the microbiology in your soil. If you are new to this type of growing talking with others in your area, or your industry may give you insight as to what works locally.
Balancing soil nutrients, organic matter, ph, ec, etc.. isn't going to happen overnight, but with persistent work turning even the roughest,dried up leached soil into deep black rich productive soil is possible, with the right products and know-how.