Interpreting a Reams Test

To understand the workings of soil it can be viewed like a battery. Low ERGS (energy released per g of soil) is like having a flat battery.

Nitrogen (N)  is the soil’s ‘electrolyte’. Insufficient N results in a low current flow. Adding N to soil is like adding electrolyte to a battery and charging it up. A current can now flow and ions can move from cation exchange sites into the roots.

Without N and magnesium (Mg), green leaves cannot photosynthesise as these nutrients make up the core of every chlorophyll molecule.

Calcium is like an electrical capacitor and is the base against which all other nutrients react to release their energy for plant growth.

Calcium is also called the trucker of all nutrients, as it carries all other nutrients to the plant.

Boron (B) is like the truck’s steering wheel, facilitating both Ca uptake but also sugar translocation to the roots and germination tube growth and fertilisation.

Insufficient Ca is like having a motorbike battery to start a truck. Adding more Ca increases the battery capacity to truck size, but this requires more N electrolyte to be added. So we need to be sure there is always enough N in the system. Calcium and silicon (Si) are the main cell strengtheners.

Phosphate (PO4) is like an usher for all nutrients except potassium (K) inside the plant. All nutrients enter the plant attached to PO4. Insufficient PO4 means a bottleneck at the root surface; nutrients can’t get up to the leaves fast enough. Phosphate is also the chief energy transfer-medium in photosynthesis, turning radiant energy from the sun into chemical energy.

Potassium helps move sugars from the chloroplasts, convert N to protein, regulate 50 enzymes as well as stomatal opening and closing; it is also the grain and fruit filler. In leaf analyses, excess manganese (Mn) and deficient zinc (Zn) actually signals K deficiency.

The Ca:Mg ratio signals either soil compaction or flocculation, and a low P:K ratio signals pressure from annual weeds.

Paramagnetic materials (eg oxygen, volcanic rock dust) increase root growth by emitting photons. ORP (oxidation-reduction potential) indicates the state of soil oxidation or reduction. To increase ORP add organic matter or dig in green matter.  If the ORP levels are too high, we add water to reduce ORP.

Humus is crucial to all soil life, soil structure, productivity, carbon sequestration etc. The humus rating is based on the Lubke compost test for humus.

Vegetative energy in a plant grows foliage. Ca, nitrate-N, K and Cl all provide vegetative energy.

Flowering/fruiting energy produces flowers and sets fruit. Ammonium-N, P, acids, S, SO4 and all other nutrients provide flower/fruiting energy. There is normally a balance between these two energies in plants. To emphasise one or the other energy requires a shift in the balance either way, by applying the appropriate nutrients. Environmental Fertilisers produces two such energy-producing, sprayable products, EF Vegetative and EF Reproductive.

Ammonium-N is produced as a by-product for plant growth when soil bacteria are consumed by beneficial protozoa and nematodes. A low reading indicates a shortage of protozoa or beneficial nematodes.

A high nitrate-N reading may be the result of heavy use of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers.