Introduction to Mississippi Soils
Perhaps no other state with so few total residents has the grassroots popular culture impact of Mississippi. The impact of native state soil on individual contributors to the social-cultural fabric may be unknowable, but one thing is known: Mississippi soils are unique and support our current social, economic, and environment conditions.
Mississippi soils are diverse, reflecting:
- the diversity of their parent materials (the raw material for soil),
- a conducive environment (warm, humid) for rapid pedogenesis (the process of soil formation),
- active biological activity (note the warm and humid climate), and
- the unique topography (the lay of the land).
Mississippi has three general land regions:
- The Delta, a river floodplain in western Mississippi,
- The Brown Loam loess region (a band of soils formed in windblown material that adjoins the Delta), and
- The Coastal Plain (the rest of the state).
As land management transitioned after 1492 until now, the surface soils of each region led to the economic activity on them.
In the early 21st century, more than 80 percent of the state’s row-crop production, including cotton, corn, and soybeans, is on Delta soils. These relatively flat and deep soils are derived from alluvium (deposits left by flowing streams). They are very fertile and often formed into large fields conducive to mechanized agriculture.
Animal production and forestry dominate in the shallower soils of the hills of east and south Mississippi that are derived from loess (windblown materials) or Coastal Plain materials (deposited by “stationary” water).
The loess and Coastal Plain regions are subdivided into smaller units based on common soils, geology, climate, water resources, and land use. These subunits, plus the Delta, are known as Major Land Resource Areas.
More information on the individual areas, visit our Mississippi Land Resource Areas page.
Early fall is one of the best times to test your soil. A soil test can tell you if your lawn or garden needs critical nutrients and how much. This way, your plants and your wallet will stay healthy. You won’t waste your money applying fertilizer or lime that your plants don’t need.
Sweet potato growers in Mississippi can get free nematode testing of soil samples they send to Mississippi State University from now until Dec. 31, 2024. The samples can be submitted in nematode bags available at local county MSU Extension Service offices; samples are also accepted in quart-sized, sealed plastic bags.
STONEVILLE, Miss. -- Agricultural producers hoping for some relief from recent high fertilizer prices are not likely to find it in 2023.
Brian Mills, Mississippi State University Extension Service ag economist at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, said fertilizer prices are expected to remain at 2022 levels.
“We do have good, high crop prices, and with high crop prices, you usually see input costs stay high and go up,” Mills said.
COMO, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Extension Service will cohost a collaborative field day in Panola County Sept. 29 to share information about cover crops and reduced-till farming, soil and water health, and pasture soil and water management.
The Mississippi Land Stewardship field day runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and begins at Buckeye Farms at 3251 Tom Floyd Road in Como. Attendees will then travel to two different fields, one row crop and one pasture. The field day will conclude at Home Place Pastures. A complimentary lunch is included for participants.
Having healthy soil in your garden results in healthy plants. Whether you’re planting vegetables, flowers, grass, trees, shrubs, or anything in between, a soil sample is the first thing to check off the list. Gathering a soil sample from your landscape and having it tested by MSU Extension’s Soil Testing Lab should be the initial step in any gardening adventure. Plus, it’s pretty easy to do!
Gaddis & McLaurin might sound more like the name of a law firm than a general store, but the name is synonymous with all manner of dry goods in the Hinds County community of Bolton and has been since the 1870s.
Sledge Taylor is no stranger to cover crops —he first planted vetch on 100 acres of his Panola County farmland in 1979—but he has ramped up his cover crop usage and added other sustainable agricultural practices over the past 15 years.
Brian Andrus irrigated exactly zero times on his Sunflower County farm in 2021. He didn’t even turn on his well.
Delta farmer Travis Satterfield reflects on 40+ years in the fields
The price of rice hasn’t increased much since Travis Satterfield of Benoit began growing it in 1974, but nearly everything else in the world of production agriculture has changed.