Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lab #6: Munsell Color System, Community Gardens and Soil Testing

Munsell Color System:
The Munsell color system is a color space that specifies colors based on three color dimensions: hue, value (lightness), and chroma (color purity). It was created by Professor Albert H. Munsell in the first decade of the 20th century and adopted by the USDA as the official color system for soil research in the 1930s.

How to use the Munsell color chart:

Community Gardens:

A community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people.

Community gardens provide fresh produce and plants as well as satisfying labor, neighborhood improvement, sense of community and connection to the environment. They also provide a green space in urban areas, along with opportunities for social gatherings, beautification, education and recreation.

Unlike public parks, whether community gardens are open to the general public is dependent upon the lease agreements with the management body of the park and the community garden membership.

Open or closed-gate policies vary from garden to garden. There is no typical model of a community garden.

Soil Tests
There are a few key facts to keep in mind when you perform a soil test:
  • Soils range in pH level from 3.5 (highly acidic) to 9.5 (highly alkaline). The 6.5 to 7.5 range is considered neutral. Fertile, well-balanced soils should fall in the neutral range, though a slightly alkaline reading is also acceptable.
  • Even moderately high salinity will negatively affect your plant growth. The deeper the soil depth that returns an undesirable salinity reading, the more growing pains your plants will exhibit. Thus, it's best to test several soil samples from varying depths.
  • Late autumn and early spring are the best times of year to test for nitrogen levels. Any nitrogen reading less than 100 pounds per acre is considered unacceptable. Ideally, your nitrogen readings should be 150 pounds per acre or more.
  • Phosphorus levels shouldn't fall below 80 pounds per acre. Anything less than 40 pounds per acre is considered deficient.
  • Tests for potassium (or "potash") should also be performed on samples obtained from a depth of at least 6 inches. Potassium levels don't vary much throughout the year. You're looking for levels of at least 300 pounds per acre. 150 to 300 pounds per acre is marginally acceptable, and anything less than 150 pounds per acre will require intervention.
  • Sulfur levels should read at least 50 pounds per acre. The amount of sulfur in the soil is only affected by extensive leaching as the result of extremely heavy, continual rainfall.

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