Positive results from Denver soil health awareness campaign

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Soil in neighborhoods surrounding the National Western Stock Show complex has been found to be more than sufficient for growing a variety of landscape and garden plants.

“Data indicated that although there was some minor variability between soil test results, most of the nutrients were found in sufficient concentrations and the soils do not need additional amending,” says Dan Goldhamer, Denver Extension horticulture agent. “The one exception to this was nitrogen, which was expected due to nitrogen’s high mobility in any ecosystem."

Denver County CSU Extension staff and several partner agencies distributed 153 free soil test kits to homeowners in four neighborhoods throughout Denver prior to and on Earth Day 2015. Forty-six kits were returned and analyzed at no cost by the Soil, Water and Plant Testing Laboratory on the Colorado State University campus.

“These observed high concentrations of nutrients could be due to multiple factors including, but not limited to over fertilization (especially with compost and/or manure) and high native concentrations of these elements,” according to project director Eugene Kelly, professor of Soil and Crop Science at CSU. “Effective soil fertility management is an essential aspect of preserving and improving soil health.”

Follow-up education and training with written information was provided where necessary. Finally, door-to-door canvassing to pick up the kits, delivering the samples to campus for testing, and final analysis and interpretation of the data took place.

Next spring another soil health awareness campaign will add new neighborhoods throughout metro Denver to the soil test kit distribution plan. Educational programs are planned as part of the campaign.

Partner agencies included The Growhaus, Revision, Groundwork Denver, the National Western Center Citizens Advisory Committee and CSU Extension. The campaign was targeted to the neighborhoods of Globeville/Elyria/Swansea surrounding the National Western Center complex, and Westwood off of Morrison Road in west Denver. The CSU Soil, Water and Plant Testing Laboratory, under the direction of Professor Kelly, provided the soil test kits to the Denver Extension office to distribute for this event.

More information on soil sampling, testing and a more detailed explanation.