Clay Soils in KS

Michel) Well there are two main components of soil that really supply the benefits that plants need to be able to grow, and that would be the soil organic matter. In addition to that its dominantly clay minerals, the minerals that occur in the clay fraction, in the clay particle size, they’re largely the minerals that supply the ability of soils to retain nutrients the plants use. I have a soil sample here that is high in clay. It actually has a texture that we would call a silty clay, a texture that occurs in many of our subsoils in Kansas. Its around 40 to 45 percent clay. But one property of many of our soils in Kansas with a high clay content is the plasticity to it. And you can see how I can just rub this between my thumb and forefingers and it forms a very long ribbon. That indicates its a sample that’s very high in clay, and its also a type of clay that has a lot of plasticity to it. The American Indians they had known deposits that they would go to to be able to dig out and mine some areas where the clay was concentrated in the soil. This was dominantly the clay that’s of the mineral called kaolinite they would use to make pottery. (Amy) There are different qualities of clay. Typically it was based on geography, and what you had access to. Different regions have different materials. I went to Italy and the clay there was green when I was using it, but it fires terracotta. Its all about the iron content and how long its been decomposing. You know there’s countless additives and different sort of additions and subtractions you can make to your clay body. There’s endless possibilities. We work with a periodic table of elements to compose glazes and to compose clay bodies, and so we are scientists. We maybe don’t go as in-depth as understanding all the different things but we are balancing equations and calculating to make sure that we have what we need to make the right melt, to make the right color happen.

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