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Soil, Soil Fertility, and Composting

Robert Parnes. 1990. Fertile soil, a grower's guide to organic and inorganic fertilizers. AgAccess, ISBN 0-932857-03-5 (soft cover, 190 pp., out-of-print). This is a brief and easily understood introduction to soil fertility and organic fertilizers. There are many useful tables on nutrient contents of various organic fertilizers, including manures, and nutrient requirements by various crops.

Joe Smillie and Grace Gershuny. 1999. The soul of soil, a soil-building guide for master gardeners and farmers. Fourth edition. Chelsea Green Publishing Co., ISBN 1890132314 (soft cover, 173 pp., US$16.95). This is a complete but brief and easily understood introduction to soil science and soil management, following organic methods.

Joseph F. Schmidt, Milo Burnham, and Carol M. Short. 1996. Composting for the Mississippi Gardener. Mississippi State University Extension Service, P-1782 (8 pp., free, or download here). This publication describes how to make good compost. Included are a list of compostable materials with their C:N ratio, various types of composting containers, and a guide to composting problems.

Marianne Sarrantonio. 1994. Northeast cover crop handbook (Soil Health Series). Rodale Institute, ISBN 0-913107-17-4 (spiral bound, soft cover, 118 pp., US$12.00, difficult to find). Introductory chapters in this manual tell you how to choose and manage a cover crop, determing the N contribution from the cover crop, and to assess the results. It also includes a crop-by-crop presentation of uses, management, pests, and varieties of different species. It is useful beyond the north-eastern USA.

Olen D. Curtis. 1987. Converting fertilizer rates from tons to teaspoons. Louisiana State University, Pub. 1545 (2 pp., free, order from Publications Office, Ag Center Communications, P. O. Box 25100, Baton Rouge, LA 70894-5100). This publication explains how to convert fertilizer rates for small applications. Includes tables that are very easy to use.

Keith Crouse and Will McCarty. 1997. Soil testing for the farmer. Mississippi State University Extension Service, IS-346 (5 pp., free, or download here). This publication explains how and when to take a soil sample, the cost of a sample, where to submit a sample, and how to read the soil test report from the MSU laboratory. The soil testing lab or your Mississippi county agent can provide the laboratory form (F-76) and a box for the soil. Most land grant universities in other states provide the same service.

David Tatum and Keith Crouse. 1995. Soil pH and fertilizers. Mississippi State University Extension Service, IS-372 (2 pp., free, or download here). This short publication contains a chart of the preferred pH's of various plants, and a chart of various fertilizers (inorganic and organic), their contents, application rate, and their effect on soil pH.
Academic/Technical Titles

Nyle C. Brady and Ray R. Weil. 2001. The nature and properties of soils. Thirteenth edition. Prentice Hall, ISBN 0130167630 (hard cover, 960 pp., US$110.00). This is a standard college textbook for general soil science.

John L. Havlin, Samuel L. Tisdale, and Werner Nelson. 1998. Soil fertility and fertilizers. Sixth edition. Prentice Hall, ISBN 0136268064 (hard cover, 704 pp., US$115.00). This is a standard college textbook for soil fertility.

Robert Rynk, ed. 1992. On-farm composting handbook. Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service, Publication NRAES-54, ISBN 0935817190 (soft cover, 186 pp., US$10, to order call 607-255-7654 or order on-line at http://www.nraes.org/nraesform.html). Describes methods for large scale (farm) composting operations.

Mark Dougherty. 1999. Field guide to on-farm composting. Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service, Publication NRAES-114, ISBN 0935817395 (soft cover, spiral bound, 118 pp., US$14.00, to order call 607-255-7654 or order on-line at http://www.nraes.org/nraesform.html).

Richard G. Snyder and James G. Thomas. 1996. Fertigation, the basics of injecting fertilizer for field-grown tomatoes. Mississippi State University Extension Service, P-2037 (8 pp., free, or download here). An explanation of what materials to use in liquid fertilization through drip irrigation, how to calculate the amount of fertilizer needed, and some equipment needs. Additionally, two fertilization schedules are presented for field tomatoes.

Fred Magdoff and Harold Vanes. 2000. Building soils for better crops, organic matter management. Second edition. Sustainable Agriculture Network (Handbook Series, Book 4) ISBN 1888626054 (soft cover, 230 pp., US$19.95). This is an in-depth presentation of current scientific knowledge about soil organic matter, written in a clear and understandable style.

University of Wisconsin. 1960. Soils of the north central region of the United States. Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Wisconsin, North Central Regional Publication No. 76. This manual includes a soil Map of the region, as well as soil data for the region. It cannot compete with or substitute for the county-by-county USDA NRCS Soil Survey manuals, but some counties (particularly in Missouri) have not yet been surveyed, so this fills in the gap to some extent. This publication is out of print, but libraries in many Land Grant universities have it in their collection.

Julian D. Brake. 1992. A practical guide for poultry litter composting. Mississippi State University Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Bulletin 981 (8 pp., free). This is a report of research conducted on composting poultry manure.

 

Other Titles

Win Way. Lime ash, an ecological solution to an environmental problem. The University of Vermont, Br-1360 (8 pp., free, order from Publications, Agricultural Engineering Building, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405-0004, tel 802-656-0301). Briefly describes the uses and benefits of a 80%-20% lime-wood ash mix for liming soils.

Win Way. Farm fertilizers. The University of Vermont, Br-1312 (21 pp., US$0.50, order from Publications, Agricultural Engineering Building, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405-0004, tel 802-656-0301). Although this publication describes various inorganic fertilizers, it contains excellent information about essential nutrients.

Deborah L. Martin and Grace Gershuny, editors. 1992. The Rodale book of composting, easy methods for every gardener. New revised edition. Rodale Press, ISBN 0878579915 (soft cover, 278 pp., US$14.95). This book presents a thorough introduction to composting, including a discussion of the materials needed, methods of production, structures, equipment, and uses of compost. Almost identical in scope and content to Stu Campbell's "Let It Rot".

Stu Campbell. 1998. Let it rot, the gardener's guide to composting. Storey Books, ISBN 1580170234 (soft cover, 160 pp, US$12.95). This book presents a thorough introduction to composting, including a discussion of the materials needed, methods of production, structures, equipment, and uses of compost. Almost identical in scope and content to Martin and Gershuny's "Rodale Book of Composting".

Steve Gilman, Fred Magdoff, and Robin Wimbiscus. 2002. Organic soil fertility management. Chelsea Green Publishing Co., ISBN 1931498288 (soft cover, 60 pp., US$7.95).

T. L. Senn. 1987. Seaweed and plant growth. Privately published, ISBN 0-939241-01-3 (softcover, 160 pp, US$10.95, available from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply). The book thoroughly describes the uses of seaweed as a fertilizer, as well as it's other benefits to plants.

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Publications

News

Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Commercial Fruit and Nuts, Farmers Markets, Greenhouse Tomatoes, Organic Fruit and Vegetables, Other Vegetables August 17, 2017

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Produce growers, packers, industry suppliers and others can learn the requirements of the new federal Produce Safety Rule during one of three upcoming workshops around the state.

Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Organic Fruit and Vegetables May 23, 2017

VERONA, Miss. -- A Mississippi State University vegetable expert is part of a project designed to support and strengthen organic farming in the Southeast.

Casey Barickman, an assistant horticulture professor with the MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, is working with colleagues from Tuskegee University, Auburn University, North Carolina State University, the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network and Oregon State University to give organic growers the information they need to develop efficient production systems.

Filed Under: Commercial Fruit and Nuts, Organic Fruit and Vegetables, Fruit February 14, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi fruit growers need look no further than their smartphones or laptops when searching for a second opinion on chill hour accumulation.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service has launched Chill Hours, an app that helps growers assess growing conditions that affect plant physiology and prepare for the upcoming growing season.

Peaches displayed for sale on a bright blue table. Production and sale of peaches, strawberries and other fruit and vegetable truck crops are on pace to be strong once again this year. (File photo by MSU Extension/Kat Lawrence)
Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Farmers Markets, Organic Fruit and Vegetables July 22, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Favorable weather and a steady consumer appetite for local produce are keeping Mississippi’s truck crop industry strong.

The state now has more than 80 farmers markets, compared to 52 in 2010. These markets make up the main avenue through which truck crop growers sell their goods, but local produce can be found with more frequency on grocery store shelves during the growing season. This trend reflects the shift in consumer preference.

Filed Under: Organic Fruit and Vegetables, Sweet Potatoes October 15, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi sweet potato growers will benefit from Mississippi State University’s work in a U.S.

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