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News Filed Under Soils

An overcast sky is reflected in water standing over and between the rows of a muddy field.
March 15, 2019 - Filed Under: Corn, Soils, Disaster Recovery

Recent rainfall in north Mississippi has flooded many areas and made much Delta farmland unworkable as the time approaches for planting and other traditional tasks.

The first photo shows ground that has been disked in the middle of dormant grasses. The second photo shows the same location with green plants growing beside grasses that are not as lush.
October 19, 2018 - Filed Under: Soils, Wildlife

Thinning timber, prescribed fire and planting wildlife food plots are the most common tools in wildlife management, but there is another, often overlooked practice: using light disking to disturb the soil.

June 28, 2018 - Filed Under: Soils, Soil Health, Environment

CLARKSDALE, Miss. -- Growers who planted cover crops for the first time last year will share their experiences with other producers at a cover crop field day.

June 28, 2018 - Filed Under: Crops, Organic Fruit and Vegetables, Soils, Soil Health, Beekeeping, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

SAUCIER, Miss. -- Producers and gardeners looking for tips on growing herbs and improving their soil can attend a July 20 field day.

A marker stating “Common Vetch” stands in a section of tall green grass.
January 22, 2018 - Filed Under: Crops, Soils, Weed Control for Crops

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.

May 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Soils, Soil Testing

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."

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)
April 13, 2016 - Filed Under: Soils

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)
May 21, 2015 - Filed Under: Crops, Soils, Soil Health

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)
April 17, 2015 - Filed Under: Farming, Crops, Soils

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)
March 27, 2015 - Filed Under: Soils, Soil Health

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)
October 20, 2014 - Filed Under: Organic Fruit and Vegetables, Soil Health, Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

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.

September 9, 2014 - Filed Under: Soils, Soil Testing

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.

Careful farming practices, such as reduced tillage and restricted traffic patterns, can reduce soil compaction in fields. Compacted soil prevents plant roots from reaching as deep into the soil as needed for peak performance. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
May 28, 2014 - Filed Under: Soils, Farming

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.

Tire tracks crisscross this Bolivar County, Mississippi, field. Heavy farm equipment can compress soil underground, making it difficult for plants to reach moisture and nutrients. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Laura Giaccaglia)
May 23, 2014 - Filed Under: Soils

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.

Bill Evans, center, helps Bayleigh Newman, left, and Olivia Leigh Williams, right, plant their watermelon seedlings at Mississippi State University's Truck Crops Station June 12. Employees at the station held a short program on gardening to complement the Dig into Reading theme of this year's statewide library summer reading program. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Susan Collins-Smith)
June 19, 2013 - Filed Under: Soils

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.

Standing water between rows of corn at Mississippi State University's R.R. Foil Research Center in Starkville means the soil has no oxygen available to root systems. As soils dry out, the crop will need rain or irrigation to sustain growth. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
April 19, 2013 - Filed Under: Crops, Soils, Irrigation

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 University Extension Service agronomy specialist Keith Crouse sorts through routine samples on April 10, 2013, in the MSU Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab, where every day is Earth Day, not just April 22. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
April 18, 2013 - Filed Under: Soils, Soil Testing

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.

December 6, 2012 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Soils, Farming

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.

Clarissa Balbalian receives a box of soil samples sent to the MSU Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab for evaulation. A proposed management strategy accompanies each set of test results. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
December 6, 2012 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Soil Health, Plant Diseases, Soil Testing

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.