News Filed Under Soils
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Row crop producers interested in quality soil should sample fields after harvest and apply recommended lime in the fall.
Larry Oldham, a soil fertility specialist and professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said lime is an important component of soil fertility management because it sets the environment in which plants live and grow.
KOSCIUSKO -- Because it happens out of sight, soil compaction is a problem that can be hard to recognize and even harder to fix, but it takes a financial toll when ignored.
Compacted soil has a dense layer somewhere below the surface where individual soil particles are pressed together more tightly than normal. In many cases, roots are unable to penetrate the compacted layer of soil, limiting plants’ access to moisture and nutrients.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Fields that appear lush and green from the highway may be deceiving: Plant roots could be struggling to grow and find resources because of underground soil compaction.
Compacted soil has usually been compressed when equipment travels over it, forming a dense layer somewhere below the surface. The depth of this layer and its thickness depend on a variety of factors, including soil texture, moisture, organic matter and past use.
CRYSTAL SPRINGS -- Books are just one of the things children at the Crystal Springs Public Library are digging into during June. Soil is on their lists, too.
Kids enrolled in the Dig into Reading-themed summer library program recently got a lesson on plants from specialists at Mississippi State University’s Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Springtime’s soggy fields are no guarantee that summer’s row crops will have the moisture they need to thrive until harvest in the fall.
Jason Krutz, irrigation specialist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said winter and spring rain helps recharge the soil profile, but moisture must be replenished during the growing season.
“In the Delta in the summer, we’re always 10 days from a drought,” Kurtz said. “If you go 10 days without rain, your row crops are in trouble and you will have to irrigate.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Some people celebrate Earth Day with a trip on April 22 to the city park, but soil scientists get daily opportunities to see the importance of protecting the environment.
Mississippi State University Extension Service agronomy specialist Keith Crouse said an inexpensive soil test is one of the easiest ways to be a good steward of the earth and enjoy all the land has to offer. As coordinator of the MSU Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab, Crouse has seen test results prevent growers from applying unnecessary fertilizers.
JACKSON -- No-till farming, strip-till farming, crop rotation and cover crops have grown in popularity as Mississippi farmers face the challenge of conserving nutrient-rich topsoil while improving their bottom lines.
“I estimate that around 20 percent of Mississippi farmers practice no-till farming. There are probably many more who use some degree of reduced tillage,” said Ernie Flint, an agronomist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service with more than 40 years’ experience in the field.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Two soil tests conducted routinely help Mississippi producers ensure the productivity of their farmland.
Soil tests in the fall to determine fertility levels and nematode tests in the spring to detect harmful pests help producers improve soil quality before spring tillage and planting begin.
One of the final gifts a productive garden can give us is raw materials to compost for use in the next year’s garden.
As we move into autumn, many of us will be cleaning up the garden, pruning and getting rid of leaves. A lot of this yard trash will end up at the curb for the city to pick up. Some of this will be chipped and composted for municipal use. The rest probably will end up in the landfill, which is not ideal.
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.