News Filed Under Soils
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University experts say applying fertilizer to plants should be neither random nor intimidating, and offer homeowners a few recommendations on how to take the guesswork out of the job.
Norman Winter, horticulturist with MSU's Extension Service, said knowing when and what kind of fertilizer to apply is not that difficult. The first step is to get a soil test.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- For most people dirt is just dirt. Farmers, however, know all too well that soil properties can mean the difference between the success or failure of a crop.
Soil scientists also don't take dirt for granted. That's especially true of a group of Mississippi State University and Canadian researchers changing the way natural organic matter in soil is studied.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most consumers never consider what happens to animal by-products that accumulate as farmers work to deliver safe, affordable food to their tables. But a recent meeting offered a platform for agricultural stakeholders to review efforts and consider future needs.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers trying to avoid possible rising nitrogen costs by applying the fertilizer to fields before the new planting season may harm their wallet and the environment.
Most nitrogen applied to fields weeks before planting will be lost to the environment. Not only will it have to be reapplied, adding cost to the producer, but it can have negative effects on nearby water quality.
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
2003 garden catalogues are arriving every day, and Norman Winter is constantly telling you about new plants for the spring. As you sit by the fire on these cold blustery days making plans for the garden, reflect back and ask yourself how your flowers performed last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The array of numbers on a fertilizer bag can intimidate gardeners into either applying the fertilizer indiscriminately or deciding to let the plants do without.
In order, the numbers represent the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate and potash contained in the bag. Varying amounts of these three macronutrients are essential to the survival of plants.
Larry Oldham, soil specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the numbers make it possible for gardeners to supply the correct amount of these nutrients to the soil.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rising fertilizer costs brought on by natural gas price increases are no longer a future worry but a present problem for Mississippi farmers.
Natural gas prices rose from $2.30 per million British thermal units to almost $10 between January and December 2000. Much of that increase came in the last couple months of the year. But why do high gas bills affect farmers more than workers in other industries?
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- What goes into farmland as additives impacts the The Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, is the amount of a particular pollutant that can be released safely to surface water per day. TMDLs are set by the state Department of Environmental Quality, and are designed to ensure that state waters continue to meet quality standards.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi may experience long-term plant loss and severe soil moisture depletion if plentiful rains do not come in time to heal the drought damage.
"Parts of Mississippi are experiencing the worst drought since 1954 and 1980. The Delta, northeast Mississippi and some parts south of Jackson have suffered the most from the lack of rainfall," said Charles Wax, head of geosciences at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The damage isn't nearly as dramatic as that caused by an earthquake, but Mississippi soils have the capacity to harm foundations when they get dry.
Frances Graham, housing specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said shifting ground can crack foundations. This damage often shows up as cracks or separation around doors and windows or brick veneer, or as cracks in the cement slab of the carport or garage. This damage is especially evident during droughts.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Homeowners sprucing up their lawns for spring should be careful using fertilizers as two of the most common types may harm area water quality if managed poorly.
Dr. Larry Oldham, soil fertility specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said movement of nitrogen and phosphorus from soils to water supplies raises water quality concerns.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Numerous Mississippi farmers are planting vegetation buffer strips between crop land and waterways to improve water quality and fight erosion.
Dr. Larry Oldham, soil specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said buffer strips are narrow strips of grass or trees between crop land and surface waters that slow the water coming off crop land.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An improved plow that reduces soil surface disturbance is causing a stir in farming circles.
Dr. Gordon Tupper, an agricultural engineer at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, recently redesigned the low-till parabolic subsoiler he invented in 1972. Shaped like a deep-curved U, this parabolic subsoiler can increase cotton profits by nearly $33 an acre.
"Properly using this subsoiler on just a portion of the state's 1 million acres of cotton has the potential to increase profits by several million dollars a year," Tupper said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Experienced farmers know the importance of lime, but this is the first year growers could select from two grades depending on their price range and success expectations.
Larry Oldham, extension soils specialist at Mississippi State University, said acid soils limit production of every crop in Mississippi. These soils require lime to neutralize the soil acidity for maximum economic productions.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- One gardener's trash can become his treasure in a matter of weeks.
The piles of weeds, clippings and leaves often discarded can instead be naturally recycled. A well-tended compost pile quickly changes mounds of organic matter into rich soil additives.
Dr. David Nagel, Mississippi State University extension horticulturist, said compost is the result of microorganisms processing organic waste.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Erosion is more than an unsightly nuisance because if left unattended, it can wash away vast amounts of soil.
Larry Oldham, extension soil specialist at Mississippi State University, said erosion is simply soil being moved by water or wind. Some degree of erosion occurs nearly everywhere.
"Anytime you scratch up the surface of the soil, you're going to have the potential for erosion if you don't put some type of cover over it," Oldham said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many Mississippi farmers are witnessing too much of a good thing.
Moisture is an important ingredient in establishing a new crop, but rains in the last weeks of May have left many crops struggling to develop uniform stands.
Larry Oldham, extension soil specialist at Mississippi State University, said most fields need drier conditions and warmer weather.