September 1, 2011

ACCORDING TO JOHN: Mendota Jr High w/ Hard, Sticky Alkaline Soil

Mendota is a rural community on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in California. Although it is a farming community, the soil is very alkaline and salty. So much so that the local high school experienced severe tree losses (80% died) and very slow turf establishment. The school district had a landscape plan for the new Middle School nearby. It specified extensive and expensive soil reclamation to successfully grow turf and trees and improve on mortality rates in the area. The problem was that by mid-July of 2009, with school was about to start in August, the school district received quotes that would cost more money than was available. They needed to find a less expensive way to install the school landscaping in very poor, difficult soil and it needed to be done quickly. This was really a perfect situation for our John & Bob’s system! It’s a quick solution with very little labor; it’s inexpensive and amazingly effective.

One of the keys to our strategy was an injector connected to the irrigation system which would apply soil-improving natural ingredients every time the site was watered.  The injector allowed us to strategize some fast, initial applications of John & Bob’s products during landscape and irrigation installation and then rely on the injector to continuously improve the soil thereafter. We did not need to spend a lot of time (which we didn’t have) on initial soil reclamation, which also saved a lot of money.

Parking lot Chinese Pistache have matured very nicely over 24 months. They have responded well to the beneficial microbes and food for microbes to mitigate high ph and high soil salt content.

We were able to provide the 15 acre completed project to the school district under budget on about September 20, 2009. It is now almost two years later and none of the initially-planted trees died (although five were broken due to heavy winds and had to be replaced) and the turf came up strong and continues to improve. The photos taken in August of 2011 reveal impressive tree and turf performance in very poor soil.

Improved Bermuda w/ ring of trees along field perimeter. By focusing on microbial life for the soil and lowering the ph, success rate for trees was 100% with healthy growth for most of them. There are isolated examples of a few trees being negatively impacted by the poor soil conditions.  

Inside the campus, the District wanted a cool season, tall fescue turf that stays green all year, as opposed to the athletic fields w/ Bermuda which is dormant during frost season. This cool season fescue turf is ill-suited to the saline, alkaline soil. Despite that reality, it looks reasonably ok by building the soil with the same life-inducing products.

Shrubs and trees throughout the campus are performing reasonably well, despite original soil ph of more than 9 and water ph equally high. We focused on lowering ph with beneficial microbes and food for microbes applied initially very generously and then on an ongoing basis with an injected sprinkler system. 

The EZ Flow injector, to the left in the corner, conveniently and efficiently amends and fertilizes all 15 acres on an ongoing basis. An injector like this is key to continuing to improve soil over the long term. Injectors can be used on large projects like this or on individual residences.

Front of Mendota Middle School. To bring the cost down and finish the work quickly, we minimized physical working of the soil and relied on beneficial soil microbes, food for microbes and attractants for microbes to address very high ph of the soil and water.