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What is soil?

There may be as many definitions of soil as there are people with an opinion about it. The following goes beyond the purely physical to a more functional understanding of soils.

Soil is a living, dynamic resource that supports plant life. It is made up of different size mineral particles (sand, silt, and clay), organic matter, and numerous species of living organisms. Soil has biological, chemical, and physical properties that are always changing. (from National Soil Survey Center et al.)

Dirt is often called soil out of place, but dirt does not have the ability to support plants, or the intricate interplay of biology and physio-chemistry that makes soil unique.

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News

Filed Under: Soils, Soil Health, Environment June 28, 2018

CLARKSDALE, Miss. -- Growers who planted cover crops for the first time last year will share their experiences with other producers at a cover crop field day.

Filed Under: Crops, Organic Fruit and Vegetables, Soils, Soil Health, Beekeeping, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens June 28, 2018

SAUCIER, Miss. -- Producers and gardeners looking for tips on growing herbs and improving their soil can attend a July 20 field day.

A marker stating “Common Vetch” stands in a section of tall green grass.
Filed Under: Crops, Soils, Weed Control for Crops January 22, 2018

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Producers who plant winter crops with no intention of harvesting them reap the benefits of soil conservation, weed control and nutrient retention.

On the flip side, however, the practice of almost constant production in a field creates issues with pest management. Farmers who “plant green” have to balance these challenges to best prepare the way for good crops each year.

Filed Under: Soils, Soil Testing May 25, 2017

New manager of operations Keri Jones recently joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Laboratory, and she's ready to enhance the unit's efficiency."

"My primary goal is to provide accurate soil analysis in a timely manner," said Jones, an Extension associate who has worked in the MSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences since 2016. "I hope to improve the overall efficiency of the lab as well as update soil nutrient application recommendations."

Eddie Stevens, farm supervisor at Mississippi State University’s R. R. Foil Plant Science Research Center in Starkville, was applying a liquid fertilizer to a corn field on April 5, 2016. Correct application of nutrients is a key part of environmental stewardship and efficient farm management. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Soils April 13, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- One major cost of producing a good crop is ensuring plants are fertilized well, an operational expense that may consume a significant part of farm budgets.

Bryon Parman, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said nutrient application and replenishment may consume more than 13 and 14 percent of total operating expenses for cotton and soybeans.

“For crops with high nutrient demand such as corn, this nutrient cost may comprise more than 40 percent of variable costs,” Parman said.

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