News Filed Under Soils
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Technology may have changed in the 114 years since the national soil survey started, but the dedication of soil scientists engaged in the project has not wavered.
On May 8, partners from Mississippi State University’s Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other natural resources agencies met in Jackson to celebrate the completion of an ambitious project: to map Mississippi’s soils on the acre level.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new smartphone application allows growers, gardeners and landowners to get quick information about soil types and determine what to plant or where to build.
Larry Oldham, Extension professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State University, said helping clients in the field is easier than ever with the SoilWeb smartphone app developed by the Soil Resource Lab at the University of California-Davis.
Fall is the perfect time to start on your garden and landscape for next year. Amending the soil with quality, organic material is one of the best gifts you can give your garden soil.
There are quite a few options for gardeners when it comes to soil amendments. In Mississippi, many gardeners use cottonseed meal as an organic source of nutrients. It has a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium analysis of 6-2-1 and is a good source of trace nutrients.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – A fertilizer commonly used in Mississippi is the target of thefts and criminal abuse, prompting federal regulators to consider more carefully controlling this chemical’s distribution and producers to look for alternatives to avoid the hassle.
Ammonium nitrate is sold in granular form as an efficient source of nitrogen fertilizer. It is often used for pasture systems and hay production but also has other crop uses. It is desirable because the nitrogen comes in a form readily taken up by plants but not readily lost to the atmosphere.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Much of the flooded Delta was already planted for the 2011 season, and when it finally dries out, landowners will face challenges preparing it for planting.
Landowners of flooded acreage must manage a variety of issues, including oxygen-depleted soils, nutrient loss, soil compaction, debris removal and possible chemical contamination. Some acres may not be ready for planting again until next year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Farmers in the path of the cresting Mississippi River floodwaters should take precautions to minimize effects of the flood, and high on that list is moving farm chemicals out of harm’s way.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is urging farmers, homeowners and those whose businesses deal with chemicals to beware of environmental issues that can result if flooding reaches them. Among the farm chemicals that should be moved are herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, fuels and treated seeds.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – The cumulative effect of many individual bad choices can be as harmful to the water quality in an area as if a major disaster occurred.
Amy Schmidt, water quality specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said overfertilizing lawns and pouring chemicals into storm drains harm water quality. But dumping unneeded medicines and personal care products into the sewer system can be just as bad.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – A very wet September and October left most of the state’s soil saturated, as many places have had gotten rain in almost statistically impossible quantities.
Charles Wax, state climatologist and professor of geosciences at Mississippi State University, said February and May were unusually wet across much of the state, and the summer had few periods of dry weather. This caused many areas to have above-normal yearly rainfall totals when fall arrived. Then starting in September, rainfall began accumulating rapidly.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Extensive, lingering rains have turned much of the state into a soggy mess while replenishing rivers and lakes and recharging groundwater stores.
Charles Wax, state climatologist at Mississippi State University, said 2007 was the worst year of the recent, multi-year drought the state experienced. The end came in 2008 when above-average rainfall came in August and heavy rains began in late November.
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi farmers have no control over volatile fertilizer costs but they can use good soil fertility management to offset the effect on production expenses.
“We have to be efficient users of fertilizer, and that doesn't mean just this product's application rate,” said Larry Oldham, soil specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “This concept includes the whole production system of seed, soil, water, climate, pests, labor and capital.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When the owners of an organic fertilizer company in Lawrence County were trying to determine best uses for their product and develop new markets, they turned for help to a team of specialists with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Amanda Walker is the Extension director in Lawrence County. She spearheaded the efforts on behalf of Organic Growing Systems, a relatively new and growing company that produces organic fertilizer from poultry litter.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Nothing about rain has been normal in Mississippi in the last three to four years, and the state went from a serious deficit in 2007 to continually soggy ground this spring.
2007 was a hot, dry year, and row crop farmers had to irrigate extensively in places to keep their crops growing. Catfish producers saw pond water levels drop dangerously, and hay dried up on pastures, which increased feed costs for cattle producers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- World demand for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium has driven the price of these fertilizers past record levels, and Mississippi producers are trying to make 2008 crop decisions in light of steadily rising costs.
Improved market prices promoted record corn acreage in 2007. Corn acreage in Mississippi went from 340,000 in 2006 to 960,000 in 2007. However, corn generally requires more fertilizer inputs than the other major row crops.
By Robert H. Wells
Delta Research and Extension Center
STONEVILLE -- Waiting until spring to make phosphorus applications can mean a nearly 10 percent increase in rice yields, according to new research by Mississippi State University.
“We receive a lot of questions this time of year about applying phosphorus fertilizer in the fall when fields are dry and prepared for spring planting,” said Tim Walker, rice agronomist at MSU's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Ground that gets dry enough can shift and displace buildings, a fact building owners across the drought-ridden state are seeing as they deal with cracking foundations and split walls.
Larry Oldham, soil specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the clay content of soils is the driving force for this movement.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Garden crops in Hurricane Katrina storm surge areas should be safe for consumption if washed properly.
Larry Oldham, soils specialist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, said Gulf Coast Extension Service offices are getting calls about the safety of vegetables following reports of high arsenic levels in the Katrina-affected area.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- New regulations that govern lime sales make it easier for producers to decide how best to meet their soils' nutrient needs.
Larry Oldham, soil specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said Mississippi's lime law was established in 1993. In 1997, the regulations were amended to create a grading system, but these regulations were revised recently with input from the Extension Service, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and other stakeholders. The new law went into effect Dec. 15.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Three months after Hurricane Katrina created one and a half times as much debris in Mississippi's three coastal counties as the state creates in a year, removal is progressing slowly under a plan that emphasizes long-term safe disposal.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Fall applications of lime make the most sense for state producers, but experts suggest a soil test before applying it.
Larry Oldham, soil specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said controlling soil acidity is the most important aspect of soil fertility management. Adding lime changes the pH of the soil.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sometimes good research just backs up what farmers already suspected.
Nine years of research at Mississippi State University's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville revealed that using the tillage practice known as subsoiling in combination with irrigation does not improve cotton yields enough to cover the expense of these practices.