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How well do you know your soil?

Improving soil health is a focus many universities have put as a goal “front and center” for research and extension. Not only does it encourage best agricultural practices that help farmers make money, but also benefits the environment with greater efficiency/utilization of natural resources.

Soil health is gaining widespread attention because it promotes agricultural practices that are not only good for the farmer, but also good for the environment. Practices that improve yields are diverse and crop specific. In Florida, we are looking at cover crops, cattle rotations, strip-tillage, VRI irrigation, grid soil sampling, winter forages, and nutrient management.

The old adage “You cant manage what you don’t measure” especially applies to soil.  Below are a few data from the chemical, physical and biological world “under our boots” we hope to collect this season.

Tier 1 measures endorsed include:
  • organic carbon,
  • pH,
  • water-stable aggregation,
  • crop yield,
  • texture,
  • penetration resistance,
  • cation exchange capacity,
  • electrical conductivity,
  • nitrogen,
  • phosphorus,
  • potassium,
  • carbon mineralization,
  • nitrogen mineralization,
  • erosion rating,
  • base saturation,
  • bulk density,
  • available water holding capacity,
  • infiltration rate, and
  • micronutrients

For more information, please see the Soil Health Institute:

National Soil Health Measurements to Accelerate Agricultural Transformation

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