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As an introduction to soil chemistry we need to start off by thinking of a magnet.

A magnet has two charges to it.
  • A positive end &
  • A negative end.
If you place a second magnet along side the first one - what happens?


The opposite charges [poles] attract to each other and like charges [pole] repel each other.

In your soil the same natural attraction is found.

Your soil is made up of small particles that have negative charges. Elements with a positive charge are attracted to them. Just like the opposite poles in the magnets above.

The elements that have a positive [+] charge are collectively called cations ["cat irons"].

There are other elements that have a negative [-] charge and they are collectively called anions ["an irons"].

We have been introduced to a few new words like cations & anions.
The first grouping of elements falls into two categories:

  • The positive [+] elements named cations [said "cat irons"] &
  • The negative elements [-] named anions ["an irons"].
To understand about this grouping of elements we first need to meet the cations


We will focus firstly on the major cation then the minor cations followed by the anions.

Cations [+ elements] are the dominant elements in the soil, yet we often pay little attention to them. Finding an anion in your soil is like finding a needle [the anion] in a hay stack [a pile of cations].

Cations make up the majority of your soil elements and are very large in size when compared to soil anions.

Dr William Albrecht found that a good soil should have over 95% of the available elements as cations on the Base Saturation Percentage!

Where do you focus your thoughts on and your dollars?
Shouldn't 95% of your initial focus be on the cations?

So far we have identified that Calcium is a cation, but we need a lot more cations in the soil besides Calcium. It is easy then to imagine there are a lot more individual cations to consider.

We will first consider the MAJOR CATIONS.

There are five major cations in your soil. [Can you guess which five they are?]

When Dr Albrecht and fellow scientists identified that there were key elements that made for a good soil, given that rainfall, temperature, topography etc. was similar, they discovered that there were two major cations that dominated a good soil and that often made it a good soil.

The first was CALCIUM. The second was MAGNESIUM.

The Albrecht soil balance system requires about 80% of our soil cations to be of available calcium and magnesium [on the Base Saturation Percentage].

Hydrogen is also an important cation [+] as it helps to provide the acid environment to keep the metallic trace elements available and in circulation for the soil ecosystem.

  • Desirable Hydrogen levels range from between 10 - 15%.
The last two major cations [+] [on the Base Saturation Percentage] are
  • Potassium &
  • Sodium
It is best to have more Potassium in your soil than Sodium. If Sodium dominates, plants may substitute this element for Potassium

The information contained in this publication has been formulated in good faith, the contents do not take into account all the factors which need to be considered before putting that information into practice. Accordingly, no person should rely on anything contained herein as a substitute for specific professional advice.
S.O.S. Rev 9.2 All rights reserved. Contact: www.healthyag.com © Gwyn Jones 2001

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