Soil Management: Last Chance to Review the Draft ANSI A300 Standard

Tomorrow is the last day for public comment, so if you care for trees, take a look at the new draft of the US Standard Part 2 and see how it can lead to new services to sell and new ways to care for the entire tree.

This draft is written in user-unfriendly language but it’s worth the effort.  What do you see that confirms what you are doing already?  What do you NOT see that belongs in there?

A300 standards are described as “performance parameters established by industry consensus as a rule for the measure of extent, quality, quantity, value or weight used to write specifications.”    All treatments and materials that are reasonable to use on soil should get fair value and weight in this standard.

Terms used in the body that are unfamiliar or uncertain to many readers should be defined.  Suggestions:

Auger:  (ISA) tool that bores holes in wood or other materials while carrying cuttings away from the bored hole


Berm (A300 82.5)  Soil added above grade for a specified purpose, such as a planting bed or a barrier.


Biological conrol:  (ISA)  method of managing plant pests or weeds through the use of natural predators, parasites, or pathogens….”  *This applies to soil too:  Add “biological control methods should be preferred.”


Biology:  (Wikipedia) is the natural science that involves the study of life and living organisms, including their physical and chemical structure, function, development and evolution.


calcareous soil  (OSU) soil that contains free calcium carbonate; requires substantial elemental sulfur to alter soil pH of calcareous soils on a field scale.


Mulch 20.24 mulch: A material applied to the soil surface to protect the soil surface, deter erosion, moderate soil temperature, conserve moisture, inhibit weeds and improve soil structure AND BIOLOGY.  Soil requires life.  This need is so basic that the need to manage it should be acknowledged.  Adding compost is mentioned briefly, to improve structure only.  There are other materials used.

Mycorrhiza: (ISA) symbiotic association between certain fungi and the roots of a plant….delete “symbiotic”, or define it, or change it to “mutual”:  mutualism: association between organisms of two different species in which each benefits.

Using symbiosis would require Parasite:  organism living in or on another living organism (host) from which it derives nourishment to the detriment of the host, sometimes killing the host. Contrast with epiphyte and saprophyte…


Root collar (A300 82.20)  transition zone from the FLARE to the roots, where the buttress roots divide.

Change from “trunk” for clarity and to conform with Part 8.


Root curtain  (ZTV)  a material applied after excavation to prevent soil damage from drying and other damage

Soil:  (Wikipedia) Soil is a mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and countless organisms that together support life on Earth. (ISA) surface layers of sand, clay, silt, and organic material on the surface of the earth that support LIVING plants…”  Soil holds up dead trees too.  “Living” is needed.

Soil aeration  (ISA) improving soil structure to increase air movement.

Soil biology  the living components of the soil, including fungus, bacteria, and animals.

The ISA definitions below should be added here and in the body, so all users can understand what soil assessment requires.

soil auger (1) device for removing cores of soil for inspecting or testing. SEE PROBE  (2) device (drill bit) used to drill holes in the soil for vertical mulching or for the drill-hole method of fertilizing. See earth aug…
soil horizon layer or zone of the soil profile with physical, chemical, and biological characteristics that differ from adjacent layers….
soil particle smallest grains of soil categorized by size into clay, silt, or sand….
soil probe any one of a number of instruments used to take soil cores or samples. Usually some variation of a metal tube with a sharpened or serrated point and a T-shaped handle….SEE AUGER
soil profile vertical section through the soil and all of the soil horizons….
soil reaction pH (acidity or alkalinity) of a soil….


Soil replacement (ZTV) removing and replacing soil to improve growing conditions.  **A300 does not currently acknowledge the practice of soil replacement.**

Soil structure Soil classification characteristic of how soil particles bind together (aggregate), creating voids between the aggregates. **Particles bind together as the result of biological activity.**

If changes are not made, this standard will ignore the biological essence of the soil, and devalue the work of those who aim to build soil biology!

The door on public comment slams shut September 25.   Soil is not dead. Speak out for the life in the soil that gives life to the trees!


  1. Download the A300 Part 2 Soil Management revision draft **above** on the A300 Standards and Current Projects page.
  2. See the instructions at the bottom of the current projects page on how to make comments. The instructions include a notice that the commenter needs to be logged into the TCIA website in order to make comments.
  3. Click the button to log in (or click “Create a New Account” to register for a TCIA account), go to the web form, and make comments.

Please note: You may provide comments directly to your A300 Committee representative if you do not need an official response from the ANSI-accredited A300 Committee. Visit the A300 Committee roster on the TCIA website for a list of your representatives.


Author: Guy Meilleur


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