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Soil Fertility/Nutrient Management

Managing soil fertility and nutrients for crop production involves many factors. Soil test-based recommendations provide information regarding whether supplemental nutrients may, or may not, be useful in growing plants on a particular soil. Fertilizer costs have increased substantially over the past 10 years, and there is more interest in using organic fertilizers. Lime in Mississippi is a significant investment. Furthermore, there is increased manager and societal interest in managing plant nutrients to minimize any negative effects within the agriculture-environment interface.

Mississippi State University has a long and distinguished history of soils, soil fertility, and nutrient management research and extension that is drawn upon for our recommendations. Much of that information for growing most agronomic crops in Mississippi is now collated here.

MSU Extension Service Publication 2647 Nutrient Management Guidelines for Agronomic Crops Grown in Mississippi, contains the following information:

  • Introduction to Nutrient Management
  • The Soils of Mississippi
  • Plant Nutrients
  • Introduction to Soil Testing
  • Introduction to Inorganic Fertilizers
  • Lime, Liming Materials, and Regulations in Mississippi
  • Using Poultry Litter to Fertilize Agronomic Crops
  • Best Management Practices for Nutrients in Agronomic Crop Production
  • Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Based Recommendations for Hay and Pasture Crops.
  • Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Based Recommendations for Annual Agronomic Crops
  • Soil Fertility/Nutrient Management Glossary, adopted from the International Certified Crop Adviser Program.

More information is available, including:

Soil Sampling Information


Plant Nutrients and Liming

Specific Crop Nutrient Management

 The Plant Nutrition Radio Series - Audio files from the Farm and Family Radio Show

Other Fertilizer Information

Other Information

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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.

Larry Oldham, Mississippi State University soil specialist, samples soil in a Delta field on Oct. 17, 2014. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)
Filed Under: Crops, Soils, Soil Health May 21, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi farmers should not take the state’s rich soil for granted, but the question of the best way to treat this valuable resource sparks debate.

“Soil can be thought of as a living organism that must be kept healthy to provide some of the crop requirements and make efficient use of inputs, especially fertilizer,” said Larry Oldham, soil specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Poor weather conditions often stretch out Mississippi's row crop planting season as overly wet or cool fields keep planters in the barn. (File Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
Filed Under: Farming, Crops, Soils April 17, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Seeing planters in the field is an expected part of spring in rural areas, but a lot of effort goes into making sure they run at the right time.

Planting season in Mississippi begins with corn in late February to early March and often runs into July as the last of the soybeans are planted after wheat harvest. The long planting window allows producers the opportunity to get a crop in the ground even when the weather is not ideal at typical peak planting times.

More than 50 junior high and high school students across the state participated in the Mississippi FFA/4-H State Land Judging Contest March 24, 2015. The competition was held at the Mississippi State University Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Newton, Miss. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Soils, Soil Health March 27, 2015

NEWTON, Miss. -- More than 50 junior high and high school students gathered inside a freshly dug pit at the Mississippi State University Coastal Plain Branch Experiment Station as part of an educational competition to teach them the roles that soil plays in farming and construction.

Give gardens the gift of organic matter in the fall to thank them for their beauty and bounty and prepare them for the next growing season. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
Filed Under: Organic Fruit and Vegetables, Soil Health, Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens October 20, 2014

Gardens and landscapes work really hard to give us so much beauty and bounty, so sometimes it’s nice for gardeners to give something back to the earth.

Fall is a really good time to build up your garden soil for next year. Probably the best gift you can give your garden is to amend its soil with organic matter.


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