Soils and Soil Fertility for Small Farms Thursday, January 21, 2016

Boop recording has started fabulous so I will send the link to the archived version of this webinar it will be on our Illinois local foods YouTube channel just like the last one was we also send a very short online evaluation much like the one from last week if you’re having difficulties with the Skype for business plug-in we do apologize we know that it’s not perfect for everyone please make sure that you followed the instructions that I sent around via email I’m also going to put the instructions in this chat pod one more time that’s a whole page of instructions on how to do this correctly make sure you’re using a USB audio device if your make sure your browser is compatible Firefox seems to be pretty universal and if you cannot see the presentation but you can hear excuse me if you can see the presentation but can’t hear the audio you can consider dialing in also on the lower right hand part of your screen there is a little phone icon with a gear up next to it that’s the call controls menu if you click on that in the pop-up there is on the upper right a little headphone that says devices if for whatever reason you can’t hear the audio you can mess with your devices and get that to go to a different set of speakers a headset whatever okay that is the housekeeping stuff without further ado this presentation is going to be from Mike Rogi he’s one of our extension educators and local food systems and small farms as well he’s based out of Quincy Illinois for you out of state and out of country types that’s sort of in west central Illinois some sandy soils he’s got bachelor’s degree in Agra from Southern Illinois University master’s degree in agronomy from University of Illinois very involved in Quincy Chamber of Commerce John Wood Community College member of various professional organizations and awards he’s a hell of a guy a long time extension agent and and his wife have been farming on 20 acres since about 1991 mostly producing retail food crops including asparagus sweet corn strawberries and various other things in their greenhouse so without further ado mr. rogge take it away sir thank you sir I need to get you all my performance appraisal team I really enjoyed your introduction I appreciate that you got that yeah and to the group here we really want to thank Andrew from our team for his patience and and putting together this series of webinars this year this is Andy’s first year doing it we had Kyle Cecil did this for several years prior to this as as Andy’s first first role doing this he’s done a fabulous job or promotion and also making sure we’re all ready to go when we’re supposed to go so andrew for the team thanks again for it for doing this you bet you might so let’s get started and I guess I probably shouldn’t even mention this but I will anyway when I was a student I hated soils just detested it and and Here I am teaching about soils but soils involves at the at the at the level I study that involves a lot of science a lot of chemistry and that just wasn’t my bag if if he catch Austin Powers much but it just wasn’t my bag I just didn’t like it a whole lot but even though even though I didn’t like it I still tried to learn as much as I could because I knew it’s gonna help me in a long run and for all of us I think it behooves us to know and understand soils to some degree because so much what we do is imperative on understanding of the soil so we’re going to try to make it fairly simple I won’t get into any chemistry or spines today or no chemistry a little bit of science but no chemistry and try to make us paddle as possible and as informative as possible so we’re gonna get started the wealth of Illinois is in her soil and her strength lies in its intelligent development that is etched into the outside walls of Davenport Hall on U of I campus Davenport Hall was one of the first buildings constructed at Champaign at the U of I it’s dated to you know sometime late 1800s I’m not sure exactly when again it’s one of the first buildings built so it’s been around for you know at least 120 years or longer and in my mind that’s saying Israel just as relevant today as it was 125 years ago and Mindy gharana missed in Illinois and across the Midwest will agree with me that intelligent development of soil does so much to further mankind and I don’t mean mean to get philosophical or anything but so much of what we do is tied

directly to how we manage the soil so what is a function of the soil Souls have many different functions obviously they support plant growth you know plants are anchored into the soil some more permanently than others perennial crops such as trees from oak trees can live hundreds you know at least a hundred years so it needs a soil structure to the support that growth it’s got to hold it up the roots will go through that soil and pick up nutrients they’ll scavenge nutrients they’ll pick up water and minerals to allow for growth so the soil anchors that plant it regulates – what the water flow to some extent some soils hold more water than others soils also hold nutrients vital to plant growth and development it’s also a habitat for living organisms I’m sure some of you guys out there probably fish whatever or even digging through the soil you’ll find earthworms you know there’s probably a dozen species of earth ones we can find it in our own backyards we know some of the more common ones but there’s also a number of other organisms in the soil and what kind of talk about those as as we progress along today but functional soil is vital to what we do by composition the textbook definition of a soil is forty-five percent mineral 25 percent air poor spaced 25 percent water poor space and five percent organic matter can that’s textbook all soils are going to somewhat in content but this kind of gives you an idea of what an ideal soil might be composed of organisms are commonplace in the soil if we took a took a handful of soil for instance and examine it closely we’re gonna find millions upon millions maybe even billions of bacteria and fungal organisms present microscopic organisms that thrive in good soil conditions we’re also going to find the larger critters you know the earthworms we were talking about there’s a number of ground beetles sow bugs millipedes centipedes you name it there’s a lot of insects vertebrate and invertebrate that occupy the soil the good soil has organic matter and all those better better producing soils as a general rule have higher organic matter it’s not a trend line per se but it’s very similar the higher the ganic matter goes the higher the solar productivity is probably going to be in your soil because organic matter is is is vital to good soil it holds nutrients it holds moisture it allows for percolation of air and water through the soil profile it does a lot of good things so in essence higher organic matter the higher the particular soil of course we need drainage aeration tilth all that in in the right combination can make for good soil soil particles sand silt and clay you’ve probably heard that before those are the three soil particles and and every soul has a different mixture of sand silt and clay the mixture of sand silt and clay incumbent in various combinations determines the soil texture and the pyramid shape on the left there it’s just a basic soil texture triangle clays are on the Left silts are on the right sands are on the bottom if we want to determine the texture of a soil we have to determine the percent of saying percent of silt and percent of clay so for instance if we had a soil that was six sixty percent silt 40 percent sand and 30 percent clay we call that a silty clay loam so all soils are classified by the percent of sand silt and clay and this pyramid allows you to determine what’s the old texture that your soil might be now the relative size of sand silt and clay particles is represented on the right side here you can see sand particle is the largest soil size whereas clay if you hope you can see the small dot there look like a period in that in its and molecule that sand particle size clays the smallest silt is is in between not quite halfway in between it’s more smaller than the sand is but you can see the various sizes of the particles of soil there against soil is a basic component of life in the soils on your farm you can adapt to some

extent but you’re really not going to change him a whole lot I mean those soils have adapted the last glacier that passed through most of Illinois was ten thousand years ago that’s how long these souls have had to develop so in your lifetime you’re not liable to change sole characteristics very much it took ten thousand years to form the soil you have on your farm now you can alter them to some extent by adding beneficials like compost adding cover crops to add more residue you can improve the drainage maybe to make it a better soil but you cannot really change the texture of your soil you’re not going to import six inches of silt add-on to an acre of sand to make it a better soil it’s just prohibitively expensive so the cells on your farm you have to learn how to farm with them and how to produce with them we’re gonna talk about a soil test to me a soil test is is imperative now I’m from the old-school I remember when road maps were commonly used maybe you do maybe use your smartphone for that but when I was a kid up until 10 years ago road maps were always used to find how to get someplace and I like in a soil test – a road map if I wanted to get to piss Gil annoy I’d ask you guys can you get to piss Cailin without a road map and you’re gonna say no because you never heard of his giel and all you have no idea where it’s at but it’s on the map you have a destination of mine the road map gets you to that destination which means a soil test gets you to the destination where you want your soil to perform at its best so soil test is imperative to get a soul to function as highest capability and we’ll talk about how to take a soil test here later okay site selection you know and and we know this all souls are not equal I mean you’re gonna have river bottom soils you’re gonna have upland soils now for those folks in southern Illinois about know what three weeks ago their river bottom soils were not very productive I mean they’re probably standing water on them we’ve had a you know a huge amount of water in southern Illinois during those time periods productivity is gonna change based upon the type of soil is and where it’s located at geographically in Illinois we mentioned those glaciers that occurred last time in Illinois around ten thousand years ago well they didn’t make it all the way through Illinois so the soils it’s called the Shelbyville moraine it’s a breaking point in south central Illinois there’s a break where the where the glaciers progressed to the furthest south point ten thousand years ago below that point is we call unglaciated so those soils are much older you know we think ten thousand years is in old time it is a long time for the last glacier but those souls and SIL Ninoy are much older than that Hansard not nearly as productive so geographical location within Illinois is can make a huge difference in how productive your soil is this slide here let’s talk about working soil okay when I start working soil in the spring of the year well how do we know if it’s too wet because we can severely damage soils by working them too wet when you work soils too wet you’re destroying their structure repeated freezing and thawing over the winter months greatly improves the soil structure it loosens the soil did it expansion and contraction and freezing and thawing and many farmers will tell you the best soil texture they have is when they open the field up for the very first time in the spring of the year because Mother Nature provided that freezing and thawing which really opened up and loosened those that soil up so the last thing we really want to do is destroy it by working that ground too early and I’ve seen it many times in our in our glee to go out there and start farming early we press the envelope a little bit we go out there a little bit too early upper right hand picture shows a handful of soil that was gathered in the spring of the year and formed into a ball now when it’s formed into a ball like that that’s just too wet to farm we’re gonna cause irreparable damage to that if we work it too wet in the spring especially soils that are hiring clay working at too early in the spring when it’s in this condition we’ve described an upper right-hand corner will Mar that saw for the remainder of that growing season if it’s always gonna be hard and crusty the soil PES just don’t break apart like they should working at too wet can cause heavy clay soils to be

almost unworkable the remainder of the year so avoid the temptation by getting out there too early rather when you get that ball up in the right upper right-hand corner if you can push your thumb through it and it breaks into fragments that’s the time to work the soil not before that okay so don’t be too ambitious and get out too early and and ruin the soils for the remainder of the year bye-bye your desire to get out there and get the first broccoli or the first cabbage in the ground elements of soil these are the 16 essential elements to all plants regards what kind of planet is in order of importance you notice the top 3 carbon hydrogen and oxygen and when’s the last time you spent money on carbon as fertilizer or hydrogen as fertilizer or oxygen as fertilizer for that matter the three most important elements are free mother nature is going to provide them you need to provide the others if they’re in short supply but carbon hydrogen and oxygen are there for the plant to uptake on its own now all these are important again we talked about we rank these in order of importance so nitrogen phosphorus and potassium are the elements we most worry about when we’re growing crops others are important but the degree the plant needs them are much less than what those top three are the nitrogen excuse me the nitrogen phosphorus and potassium and nutrients are important to crops just like they’re important for us you wouldn’t try to live year long on a bread of diet excuse me on a diet of bread with you you know bread has nutrients but it doesn’t have all the nutrients we require we want a balanced diet to be out to be able allow our bodies to perform at their utmost the same goes for plants we don’t want to short plants in either desirable nutrients it needs to allow to develop it is fullest potential so they’re just important to plants as they are to us we talked about those top three nutrients nitrogen phosphorus and potassium and simply these are some simple functions of those elements within the plant there’s many many more functions in the plant are the ones I listed here but the predominant ones the primary the most important ones I guess you could say for nitrogen nitrogen is a is a protein nitrogen proteins are synonymous proteins are essential in plants for not only amino acids but every function in a plant is carried out by an enzyme and proteins make up all enzymes so a plant can’t really maintain any function without adequate amounts of nitrogen for those uses phosphorus is important for not only rig growth but photosynthesis as well again there’s many other things that these elements are critical to do but these are probably the ones I want to highlight potassium cell development you know how we how the plant produces cells potassium is vital towards that function again many other functions plants that minerals provide to plants these are just a few that I wanted to highlight I talked about a soil test again assault test is imperative as a grower I don’t care if it’s for your back lawn it’s for your raised bed roses or it’s for your garden works for your 40 acre cornfield you’ve got to have a soil test again it’s that road map to tell you where you want to go to achieve best results for your farm or your field and we take a soil test every three or four years we want to test for three main things won’t test for pH you want to test for phosphorus and you want to test for potassium there’s many other tests that can be offered but these are the three critical ones oftentimes organic matter is tested and that’s a good indication of again the productive capacity of your soil a cation exchange capacity is also measured sometimes cation exchange capacity is just tells you how capable that soil is of holding on to some fertilizers okay cations collect clean organic matter hold nutrients count exchange capacity tells you how how well that so it will hold on to too many nutrients okay so it’s an indication of productivity like organic matter now if we want to test for micronutrients you think other than phosphorus and potassium and pH we probably want to use a tissue test rather than a soil test for that for

that purpose the reason being if we look at the reliability of soil tests for micronutrients they’re very unreliable you’re talking maybe 20 30 40 percent reliability with a soil test for micronutrients we never advise growers to spend their money getting soil test for micronutrients you always want to take a tissue test for that purpose and we take a soil test again every three or four acres but when we go out to that field or your backyard or wherever you want to take four or five compass compass it samples composite samples to make your one sample for that three or four acres so don’t go to one spot go to four four or five areas combine those samples to make one sample for that three or four acres we’re gonna pull soil from about seven inches deep okay we want to take from the soil surface seven inches deep pull a slice of soil four or five places combine them and you get your one sample and you probably out a sample different zones of your field separately if you have a slope on one on one part of your field sample it separately if you have an upland and a bottom land sample those separately as well so if you find like soils sample those together different soils sample them separately and minimum soil test values we’ll talk about this a little bit later too but pH we want a six point two to six point five one in that range phosphorus also noted as p1 on your soil test above 30 pounds potassium which is K above 300 pounds per acre so when you get your soil tests and you can take it to oh here in Adams County we can go to IMS County Farm Bureau to have soil samples taken many fertilizer dealers will take your soil samples as well the thing to remember when you take your samples in if you get a recommendation most recommendations are going to come back for corn and soybean producers so they may not mean a whole lot to you when you take your soil test you get the results back take it to one of our one of my coworkers who can help you interpret that soil test and know what sort of fertility you need to add to prepare your soil for its utmost these are two examples of soil test reports the top one again it doesn’t matter what lab you go to so disregard the lab information on there but the top one we can see the simple soil test it lists pH Ulises phosphorus and pounds per acre it lists potassium in pounds per acre and less organic matter okay that’s that’s really all we need now if you want to you can also get a more comprehensive soil test like the one pictured below not only does it I guess one thing here when you go to the soil lab the ones in Illinois predominantly report the results in pounds per acre okay some labs like the one built in the lower portion of the slider report to report the results in parts per million it’s important to know that if your lab reports in parts per million multiply that number by 2 to get pounds per acre so we can see on this very first test here he goes a 1.7 organic matter and P 1 phosphorus which we want which we want to use P 1 phosphorus in a second soil test here it reads nine part per million so that would be 18 pounds per acre okay so remember part per million you don’t apply by 2 to get pounds per acre it’s important to maintain soil tests and so fertility so you can kind of chart how your soils performing in its ability to provide nutrients to crops because every time you harvest a crop you take nutrients off that field their nutrients in the crop you harvest the heavier the harvest the more nutrients you remove from the field if you don’t replace them eventually you’ll be mining your soil of nutrients so keep that in mind now nutrients like nitrogen are they can be lost so we want to make sure we don’t put them on ahead of time we can’t bank them or add to the stall test over years like we can phosphorus and potassium we can add additional phosphorus potassium when we have money or when the mood strikes us and we can bank or add to those phosphorus and potassium assault tests without really losing that phosphorus and potassium if they can be lost via erosion because those nutrients attached to salt particles in a soil particles leave the soil erosion we’re going to lose nutrients as well but nitrogen is much more mobile you cannot bank it or add on

to it for multiple years so fertilizer analysis what are the numbers on a bag of fertilizer mean okay say we’ve got a fertilizer that comes with the numbers 5 10 15 on the label what does that really mean well the first number is always nitrogen second number is always phosphorus the third number is always potassium and those numbers refer to the percent of nitrogen phosphorus and potassium is contained in that bag of fertilizer so 100 pound bag of 5-10-15 will contain 5 pounds of nitrogen 10 pounds of phosphorus 15 pounds of potassium a 50-pound bag would contain half that nutrients right because against percent in nitrogen you know non Nagumo’s all require it legumes by their nature manufacture their own nitrogen and of course legume crops include like peas beans lentils clovers alfalfa’s etc those are all the game crops soybeans they produce their own nitrogen but other crops require you to provide nitrogen to that crop to get it to girl so we get our soil test back what levels do we want to try to attain in our soil test well P one phosphorus like to see those levels at least 30 pounds per acre or 15 part per million ideally we like to see that closer to 40 to 50 per acre potassium the minimum of 300-400 is not going to hurt organic matter some salt tests report organic matter you really can’t change that by much again those soils have been forming over the last 10,000 years you’re not going to do a whole lot to change significantly in that organic matter but again I sure wouldn’t oppose growing cover crops writing compost or residue to help improve soil organic matter either ok pH pH stands for percent hydrogen if you remember from the high school chemistry class a pH 7 is neutral right pH below that is acidic pH above 7 is basic for crops we simply want a pH of about 6.2 to 6.5 we want the soil to be slightly acidic all right and the reason for that is because we look at these at these graphs here so on the left hand side shows a comparative yield based upon pH yields can be highest at a pH of around 6.2 to 6.5 and the reason is this graph on the right hand side here where we’re showing on the horizontal bars are nutrients the wider the bar the more available the nutrient the x-axis on the bottom shows the pH level the two red lines represents a pH is 6.2 and ap2 6.5 as we follow those red lines up where the intersect our nutrients you’ll see that in almost every instance the pH range at 6.2 to 6.5 showed us shows us the highest amount of nutrient available to that plant that’s why it’s so imperative to keep your pH between six point two to six point five if you have limited dollars to invest in fertilizer always invest the first dollar in limestone and always use a soil test to determine how much limestone to add to neutralize the pH okay sources of nitrogen fertilizer there aren’t many okay nh3 is in hydrous ammonia it’s the highest contain nitrogen compound we have available a 2% but you’re not going to use it for the most part unless you’re also growing a field corn and hardest ammonia is what farmers apply because it’s the cheapest because it’s the highest concentration of nitrogen but it’s a gas you see them pulling these big white tanks in the field with with tillage bar applicator in front of it that’s injecting anhydrous ammonia uan it stands for yareta ammonium nitrate is half urea half ammonium nitrate is a liquid it’s going to be either twenty eight percent or thirty two percent nitrogen you’re probably not likely to use it either because it’s a liquid once you baby more familiar with urea it’s 46 percent nitrogen is a dry granule very common dab stands for diammonium phosphate it contains two of the three essential elements and remember the first number is nitrogen so it’s 18 percent nitrogen second numbers phosphorus is 46 percent phosphorus so

it contains both nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus very common map which is mono ammonium phosphorus another source of nitrogen both of those both map and dap are predominantly phosphorus supplying nutrients but in essence you buy phosphorus that contains phosphorus either damp or map you’re almost getting free nitrogen so most farmers every farmer is going to be using one of these sources of phosphorus because if nitrogen comes along pretty cheap course you go to the farming farm store and buy 12/12/12 or something similar and it works just as well as with other nutrients too but it’s much lower in concentration and because it’s much lower in concentration it’s going to cost more per unit than two other sources if you’re farming you know large amounts of ground to be able to utilize some of these nutrients that we listed above like the dap or the urea or the uan fertilizer dealers will carry the okay I’ve often gone to fertilizers just to buy a feed sack of DAP or a feed sack of urea to hand spread on smaller acreages I know my dealers here rather well and they treat me they treat me well and they allow that if you’re if you have a knowledge of a fertilizer dealer in your area you might ask them if they’d be interested in selling you just a bucket full of fertilizer but I can tell you now don’t go to them the middle of April and ask for that because they don’t even give you the time of the day the middle of April because they’ll be working on so many farm custom commercial farms so approach him now if you think you might want some cheaper fertilizer and there’s organic nitrogen sources as well manure is a great source of nitrogen but look at the concentration of manure of nitrogen manure 0.5 to 0.9% as opposed to urea which is 46% the organic sources of fertilizer nitrogen phosphorus potassium are much lower in in concentration so that abused at higher amounts per acre they still work they’re still good just have to use quite a little bit more of it to get the same effect and remember some crops are gonna require higher nitrogen rates sweet corn for instance require hard nitrogen rates tomatoes and peppers melons pumpkins cucumbers cantaloupe are all gonna require higher nitrogen rates and I put this little cheat note here for anybody who’s Smalling who’s farming on smaller acreages if you’re using something like 12/12/12 from the Farm and Home Store for high nitrogen loving crops like these listed above 25 pounds of a 12/12/12 per thousand square feet will give you 130 pounds of nitrogen per acre which is about what you’d want now if you’re not growing these crops and you’re growing smaller smaller acreage is probably 10 to 15 pounds of a 12/12/12 per thousand square feet is adequate once your phosphorus and potassium levels or where you want them to be so get your levels up to where you wanted to be 300 on potash 30 on phosphorus if you have smaller acreages use either 25 pounds per thousand square feet on these high nitrogen crops or 10 to 15 on other crops of course there’s concerns when you use nitrogen because we said earlier that you cannot Bank nitrogen nitrogen is going to be lost each year is going to be lost to some degree see the loss by leaching and that’s when nitrate or no.3 percolate through the soil its more common in sandy soils than it is clay soils but it does happen if you’re using urea or urea ammonium nitrate the liquids and it’s applied on the soil surface that conversion of that urea it’s converted from urea to nh3 which is the gas in hydrous it’s going to be lost if that conversion takes place above ground so we always talk about if you can’t have a rainfall incorporate urea within 2 or 3 days after application especially the warmer it is if it’s in April when it’s fairly cool you can probably go a week or longer but if it’s in June when soils will warm a couple days ago you can go you need to incorporate if you can get a ring within couple days and denitrification is also a concern with nitrogen and it only happens in saturated soil conditions when the water is full of excuse me when the soil is full of water ok when the soil is full of water the microbes take it and oxygen off that no.3 and it turns to end gas ok it’s gonna it’s going to be lost that

away so be very cautious we denitrification it can happen under saturated soil conditions that we can lose quite a little bit of nitrogen up to 3 or 4 percent per day under soil temperatures above 60 degrees when it’s all saturated and I hope I’m going too fast here but we’re trying to get through many of these slides and see our time is running out so we’ll try to answer questions as they come up towards the end but I’m going to plug on through there andrew is that what you suggest that’s what I’d suggest I’m keeping track of the questions I need to put to you okay thank you moving on then sources of phosphorus the conventional sources and we mentioned DAP before diammonium phosphate good night you get free nitrogen with your phosphorus so that’s what every commercial farmer uses triple super phosphate used to be very common but it’s been replaced by DAF because of the nitrogen contribution others map we talked about that earlier as well mono ammonium phosphate you got polyphosphate you got orthophosphate organic sources include rock phosphate and manure now rock phosphate you can see it’s got a fairly high analysis of phosphorous the problem with rock phosphate is that it’ll take 10 to 20 years for the phosphorus to become available for the plant the phosphorus that conventional phosphorous has been acid treated to allow that phosphorous to be able to be absorbed whereas Rockfest phosphate does not have that acid treatment so it’s going to take a decade or longer for that phosphorous to become available to the plant if we want to increase the soil test of phosphorus it takes 9 pounds of p2o5 to increase that soil test by 1 pound and i’m giving an example of how to mathematically determine how much phosphorus and potassium you need to increase your soil PH your soil level so hang on for the next slide if you would know explain that so potassium sources come inform potassium as a whole 60 potassium chloride is what every farmer uses every corner soybean farmer uses theirs potassium nitrate which contains nitrogen and 13 percent and 46 percent false earths give me 46 percent potassium there’s also potassium sulfate which contains 50 percent potassium organic sources include sulfate of potash magnesia salt soul pool meg is sometimes called it 22 percent manure at 0.42 0.8 percent compost member said earlier that phosphorus and potassium can both be lost as soil leaves the field via erosion because phosphorus and potassium attach to salt particles that can be lost if you see soil erosion on your field so take caution not to lose soil because you lose for fertility at the same time now for potassium if you want to increase your soil test by one pound you have to apply four pounds of k2o phosphorus was nine pounds of p2o5 potassium is 4 pounds of k2o so what does that mean if you get a soil test back how much fertilizer do you want to add if your soil test indicated that you have 250 pounds of potash k200 per acre remember we said we wanted our level to be about 300 pounds or higher correct remember also we said it takes 4 pounds of k2o to bring that soil test up by 1 pound so simple math we want to raise our k2o test up by 50 pounds it takes 4 pounds of k2o to do that so we need 200 pounds of k2 will increase that soil test by 50 pounds so what should I use for using oh well 60 potassium chloride you’ll need 333 pounds and here’s a math that allows you to determine that we need 200 pounds of k2 Oh our analysis is 60% potassium okay so 200 divided by 0.6 Oh against 60% potassium so 200 divided by 0.6 Oh is 333 pounds if we’re using manure we need we need 4000 pounds of manure because manure contains much less potash manure contains about 0.05 percent potash so again we want to use 200 pounds we want you know we’re going to need 200 pounds of k2o to raise that soil test but because manure when it contains 0.05 percent we need to add four thousand pounds of manure to do the same job so that’s kind

of the math involved with determining amount of fertilizer to add to increase your soil test by like amount and again the math is there for the others as well potassium sulfate is a 50% containing potassium source of 400 excuse me 200 divided by 0.5 is 400 pounds of potassium sulfate and compost we need 5,000 pounds because it’s 4 percent potassium I hope you can understand that and again if you wanted I think Andy’s going to be sending you the archived version of this see this will give you a better idea of how to add elements increase the soil test on your farm so you’re saying Mike I’m gonna grow 20 different types of vegetables this year do you expect me to have 20 different applications of phosphorus potassium on my field and I would say no no one’s gonna do that the thing to do is to get your soil to where you want it to be and again we want pH to be between six point two to six point five the phosphorus to be between above thirty perhaps forty or fifty potassium to be above 300 up to 400 once you arrive at those levels maintenance fertilizer is what you can be putting on so we’re talking about we go back to those those slides I showed you ten to fifteen pounds of 12/12/12 or 25 pounds of 12/12/12 for high nitrogen crops once we get our field to where we want sustainable levels to be apply maintenance fertilizer only in salt test over three or four years to see how well you’re maintaining maintenance levels that’s a simplest solution for that whole fertility dilemma how you spread it’s gonna depend upon how much acreage you have commercial farmers have buggies available they they can pull behind a tractor oftentimes custom applied form they don’t even apply it anymore but for upper left-hand corner shows of fertilizer buggy with a guy spreading fertilizer on larger acreages and I’ve used that before use it every year I also used the pitcher upper right hand corner that hand crank over your shoulder device all smaller acreages that’s what I use well plant you know half an acre of strawberries every year well I can’t go out and get a buggy for something like that so I just use this hand spreader it works very well now it takes a little bit longer to make three trips with the hand spreader as opposed to the tractor and a spreader but it works just as effectively we also have these carts that we can put behind the four-wheeler and spread fertilizer that away likes pictures and lower pictures there so again your method of applications could depend upon how big an acreage and how much time you have to just spread your fertilizer so recommendations again based upon soil tests and take a salt test every three or four years to verify excuse me you want to where you want to be at with your cell fertility levels and once you get to that four tilt that adequate soil fertility level six point two to six point five on the pH 30 to 40 on your phosphorous 304 on your potassium go with these maintenance levels here and again limestone is required to increase the pH and you will have to add limestone every three or four years and that’s what we call for soil test over three or four years harvesting crops harvest nutrients which reduces pH which makes a little more acidic which makes nutrients less available to the crop so always make sure you’re checking for pH and applying limestone when required in a caution if you’re gonna use lawn fertilizers on on the garden be cautious they do not contain herbicides many lawn fertilizers will contain herbicides to control various weeds dandelions for instance in the herbicide that controls Danny Lions also controls Tomatoes very very well so be cautious never buy a fertilizer that contains a herbicide and use it in your garden compost use compo I guess but the message here use compost whenever you can it’s an excellent addition to many Gardens the benefits are enormous ok compost increases organic matter because that’s what compost is is organic matter by adding organic matter you’re increasing moisture holding capacity

which lost plans to survive during times of what weather stress or water stress nutrients are held by compost so you know we talked about holding nutrients onto the soil the higher the organic matter the more nutrients you can hold on to your soil the better your crops are going to respond drainers increases by the addition of compost because you’re giving more pore space more clean more and trying to break up that clay in there getting more organic matter in there to help with drainage both air drainage and water drainage as well ok so compost is gonna improve their drainage there’s a number of sources of commercial compost available these are just two of them I know of I’m sure there’s many many more and your own backyard should be a place where you can get compost I urge everybody your girl’s vegetables to have their own compost pile so wrapping things up here soil test to determine soil pH phosphorus potassium it’s required over three or four years you can test for other substances such as kind of exchange capacity organic matter other nutrients I would caution you though and other nutrients for soil tests they’re just not very accurate take tissue tests all soils are not equal in terms of productivity and ability to grow vegetables you all know that your sands are going to yield nearly as well as your silty Rome’s River bottoms are usually much richer in nutrients repeated flooding over the last 10,000 years has really increased soil productivity of many river bottom soils but there are many sands found a river bottom soils as well there’s also some pretty nasty cells called gumbo or mucky soils which are difficult to work so again even in one field especially in the river bottom you’re not going to have uniform soil types soil type can impact which crops can be successfully grown if you have a high clay soil or if Seoul has a very high water table deep-rooted crops not going to do well they just can’t penetrate that heavy clay it can be wetter at times especially with a high water table and deep-rooted crops just don’t tolerate that very well it’s easy to add fertility it’s more difficult to improve soil tilth or reduce weed problems I do have a few slides on saw quality I’ll I’ll just run through them very very briefly because I see we have about 10 more minutes left just basically you’ll saw a quality everyone has a different definition there’s no right or wrong definition and you can argue for three days on what the definition if so quality is but your definition is just made different than mine is gonna be different than somebody else’s so I’m gonna let it go with that and again this is this is one of the reasons why I really didn’t like my sauce class in college a lot of lot of chemistry here and other thing I didn’t like about it is I had to take soils during the summer you can imagine a kid come off the farm or you had freedom of summer to do anything you want to do as long as it was walking beans was included with that summer it set in a classroom from 8 to 5 Monday through Thursday just did not sit well with me so I had a very poor attitude to begin with but another reason did like Sol’s because of awful lot of science to it but soil structure we have six different soil structures which is soil structure just arrangement of soil particles okay you got granular which you’ll find mostly in the top part of the soil got columnar it’s pretty self descriptive you have nice columns not nice column you have columns vertical columns of soil you have platy structure which like stacks plate stacked up one on top of another and those are really tough to get roots to penetrate through yeah blocky at prismatic you have single grain a number of different soil particles of course a number of other factors influence soil quality I’m not going to go through those but you can see there are a number of them out there that do affect soil quality then you have your biological impact impactors on soil quality so we try to encourage soil biological activity encourage microorganisms to flourish be cautious on on use of pesticides some pesticides can can it can cause damage to some arthropods and so forth again we talked about this what-you-see-is-what-you-get you can truly change the soil and your farm to an extent especially the texture

components the sand silts and clays you’re not going to change soil texture on your soy on your farm you can change so somewhat in other parameters such as structure you know the more times we work a soil the more we’re destroying the structure no-till had so much to soil by improving soil structure because we don’t take a piece of equipment through that soil and destroy structure cover crops help improve soil structure both motel and cover crops protect the soil from harmful you know rainfall can be damaging this to bare soil not only does it cause erosion but it can also compact their soil remember this summer we had a lot of rain and many producers found out that their soils were about as hard as they could get by the end of July simply because when you get a hard-driving rain on wet soil all the airport space is is gone and you’re getting rainfall on unsaturated soil compacts that soil we had some very compacted soil after the heavy rainfalls in June July simply because soils raindrops impact on bare soil here we go so things that make sense in my mind to improve the soil quality avoid excess tillage again excess tillage destroy soil structure avoid tilling wet soils were impacting negatively the characteristics of that soil by increasing compaction when you increase compaction the soul suffers in a plant suffer in several several methods first of all is is root penetration roots can’t penetrate very well in in compacted soil so you get less ability that root to uptake nutrients and to up trach water and to survive stressful periods you want promote residues as much as possible that includes utilizing cover crops and utilizing compost and manure if you have access to manure I don’t think there’s a single thing can do that’ll benefit to sell more than the use of manure addition to your field so at that I’ll give you my contact information and be happy to answer questions Andy we’ve got a few minutes I believe yes we and we’ve got a nice little list of questions here we’ve tried to answer some of them what can be done so I guess I’m gonna kind of go backwards because I’m remembering certain ones best ways to improve cation exchange capacity we suggested improving organic matter using compost and cover crops any additional tips on that one so your farm remove to central Illinois way to do that you’re not gonna prove consciousness capacity any great degree it just what you see is what you get and the Prairie soils the flat the black high organic matter Prairie soils was developed for the last ten thousand years under Prairie conditions that’s why they’re there the way they are though that those deep soil masses of those perennial warm season grasses just did a fabulous job of providing nutrients of breaking down giving organic matter and again that’s what cation exchange capacity relates to mostly it’s clay and organic matter which goes into determining cation exchange capacity you can’t really change we’re getting married in degree you can’t really change clay and degree you’re not gonna really change kind of exchange capacity degree either okay in a mild winter where you’re not having a lot of freeze thaw cycles how does that affect the soil differently than what you mentioned at the beginning of the presentation freezing a thawing is it’s just the in my mind the best way to improve soil structure because that repeated expansion and contraction opens up that soil air and water are vital components of the soil mix remember that deal soils twenty-five percent air twenty five percent water if it’s compacted it can never reach those levels because air can’t penetrate through compacted soil neither can water so expansion contraction open soil up just provides so much of the soil by improving that air and water pore space availability is that is that what you were cousin yep another one how long is uan good for in storage say in a 200-gallon tank it’s fine and in fact it even takes freezing the commercial guys stored outside all winter long and it’s huge twenty thousand gallon container so it’ll it’ll

keep you may have to may wanna shake it up just a little bit give me a settled somewhat but it should be fine what are your thoughts on using coffee grounds is a nitrogen fertilizer a very very low rate of nitrogen it also contains a little bit of phosphorus a little bit of potassium very little nitrogen maybe it’s less than five percent nitrogen so it’s probably very similar to what manure is but you can probably get a lot more manure and you can coffee grounds as far as pounds per acre how deep do you want to till vegetable gardens as deeply the soil will allow is my mind I mean freezing and thawing is only good depend what Prairie only from but freezing and thawing you know we stab it where we talk about burying water line three foot deep and sent Illinois divided to frost line I’m 58 years old I can’t remember the last time so frost line got down to three feet it just doesn’t happen anymore where you are where I am yeah maybe up here your Andy I don’t know but you know where you are you you got snow cover a lot of times so it doesn’t get that frost that deep either but I think if you can till down again depends upon the time of year you certainly don’t want to do it if the soils too moist that’s that’s that’s no from the very beginning and that’s why the fall of the year is the best time to do deep tillage he’s usually drier at that point in time it certainly was this past fall you don’t want too deep tillage in the spring because soul is gonna be much much wetter than a spring there in the fall deep tillage done in the fall I go as deep as I could and that the salt would allow organic producer looking to move their pH from seven or so up to your recommended six point two to six point five we suggested elemental sulfur would you agree with that have any additions to that no I’d be fine yep that’d be great and we can probably give them a recommendation as far as amounts of sulfur to utilize their there are there are tables you can find on the internet as well I’m sure but elemental sulfur I go to a commercial fertilizer dealer he has an elemental sulfur you probably will find anyplace else so go to a commercial fertilizer dealer again don’t go in the middle of April asking for it go now thoughts on biochar Oh biochar I I don’t have a whole lot of thoughts on it I know that it’s being used to some degree in small very small minut amounts there’s just a few producers I know of who are even utilizing it but I don’t have any research on biochar at all Andy okay can news whoa can newspaper and cardboard be used as compost sure the thing is with some newspaper print is not organic a lot of newspaper print uses soy oil some newspaper print is not soy oil so it wouldn’t be organic if it was other thing about newsprint and cardboard is it can it can become very mms together so you need to go in there and probably fluff it up with the pitchfork a lot more often because when it fluffs together like that it’s almost impenetrable for air air can’t penetrate that very well and for compost to work well you need air the eating those microbes have access to air you want anaerobic not aerobic microbes in compost so we have to turn it more often to get it to work but it should suffice okay I’ve been asked this is the last one someone asked and they’re probably not around here someone asked whether or not spent hops could be used as an organic addition to soils or whether they needed to be composted first before being applied well spent hops I would think if you’re going to be organic I would talk to your certifier but if the hops were certified organic I don’t know why they wouldn’t fit into an organic garden as organic compost if they’re not or if they are not an organic anyone use an organic garden I think your certifier would have to work with you on that wouldn’t would you agree with that if it was an organic situation they definitely need to be going through the composting process first it’s basically a a green vegetative sludge but I don’t know anything about the pH the nutrient capacity or any of those other components we’re gonna have to cut it off there you guys thank you for the the wonderful participation and the wonderful attention that you’ve paid to Mike I want to thank Mike Rogi local food systems and small farms Extension educator based out of Quinn see for the fabulous presentation

sharing his expertise and rejoining the webinar I hope you got some stuff that you can use in your endeavors maybe even put it in place right away for the next growing season looking at can I ask you a question Mandy sure if those want to stay longer could we allow that to occur yes absolutely I’m going to probably stop the recording but yeah if people want to stick around for a little bit longer that’s just fine and last but not least you’re gonna receive an email from me with a link to the archived webinar and also an evaluation so please look for that from me either this afternoon or tomorrow morning thank you very much I wish you the fabulous rest of the day and yeah Mike if you want to answer if you got the time to answer some more questions let’s go ahead and take them where did you suggest we start at then okay compare and contrast compost and manure I think they’re probably talking about from a benefits to your production standpoint well newer well depends was composted manure or if it’s where the manure comes from I mean many hog operations have manure available maneuvers disappointing would be raw manure is gonna be higher in nutrient availability than what compost is gonna be the caution you have with using raw manure is source first of all if your organic you got to be cautious about timing between application and harvesting of that crop if your organic you can’t use human municipality sludge at all so it could put upon that source of the of the manure but manures as general are going to be much higher in nutrient alysus than what compost is going to be I think both of them are going to add much benefit to the soil though had another interesting question about soil testing labs should I always use the same soil testing lab because different labs use different methodologies to test the nutrients there is an association of soil labs in Illinois that they have what they call round-robin testing where the they’re given a soil sample each lab is given the same soil sample and asked to evaluate it and send results back so they have to meet certain criteria in other words they’ve got to be pretty similar to what the uuv lab is nor for that nor fun to keep their certification I would look for that is one thing some folks make a habit of sending of taking soil samples splitting them in to take a soil sample you take enough so you can get two samples from that one sample you drew splitting them into instead of two different labs and comparing results I don’t think many people do that anymore but at one point in time there was that was done by a few individuals that didn’t quite trust her so her lab I guess not sure if it’s necessary anymore well one of the other things that was suggested is may be doing the soil testing at the same time of year every year because of fluctuations you’re right Andy and that’s there’s all sorts of research that shows how imperative it is to take soil samples and do if you’re comparing the sample you took this year the sample took four years ago one was in November one was in March there’s no way they’re going to equal what happens is in a fault yeah during the wintertime potassium gets caught up on a plate of clay particles or clay lattice the clay lattice work and it’s pulled in from the soil solution so if you’re trying to test soil for potassium especially in March relatively shortly after the soils have thought out the salt test is always going to be lower then if tested in September or October so you want to make sure your soil test has taken at the same time of the year comparing the new test with the old test good good point do you have a favorite type of manure to use in your production system oh no I don’t think so okay was the name of the certification do what was the name of the certification you mentioned for the the soil testing labs in Illinois well my soil testing Association is ta okay thank you some discussion about biochar did that per acre does five pounds of manure equals five pounds of compost from a soil health standpoint I don’t know how

you’d measure that use both of them I mean don’t go one or the other using both if you can but manure there are fields today that that had not had manure applied for 20 years that are still showing the effects of that manure application 20 years ago I mean that and not that one application but have new replied for 20 or 30 years prior to the eclipsing or the ending of manure 20 years ago you can still see the results on that field today that’s how much longevity the manure has to sold to saw specially poorer soils the the the lower productivity or soil is the more it’s going to benefit from manure it just adds organic matter it has nutrients and those nutrients are tied up in the organic fraction of the soil that are released over time and that’s what we’re seeing some of the soils many many years after manure was no longer applied still show some benefit from that application so I don’t know you can defend one or the other or utilize one or say one is better than the other I think they’re both they’re both good so the prison Holly that asked about hops she wanted I think the main reason she asked about whether using them fresher composted was whether or not uh well let’s break it down this way Mike does boiling will boiling breakdown pesticides or herbicides that were applied to something that is spread out on a soil I suppose it could I mean we look at herbicide half-lives and all herbicides have half-life because it’s just documented and shown DEP idiot registration its what’s the soil half-life you know how long is it time in class between when half the active ingredient is no longer there and present and most the degradation occurs because the soil itself as you well know it’s an excellent source of breakdown I mean soils have so much biological activity that that breakdown occurs rather rather easily and that’s the reason why you know back in 1961 Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring the problem was some little hydrogen hydrocarbon insecticides Det alder and dieldrin they last as long environment because they had such a long half-life they wouldn’t break down and I thought they were banned because they accumulated in a food chain boiling I don’t know how effective it is as far as breaking pesticides down but it would have some extent but when you boil it off what if you are boiling off harmful compounds your bomb off in your home kitchen you know that’s probably not good either no that was from a local brew pub oh okay yep yeah I I don’t know all right I don’t know okay and lastly I think this is gonna be the last question folks is there a resource out there that you like Mike that is particularly good at telling which veggies like which nutrients who feeds heavy on what yeah there’s a I’m sure there’s some websites out there that would answer that question we have and I need to actually Andy can I research that maybe you can add that to the PowerPoint presentation when you post it tomorrow uh yes I think so would that work out well yeah I’m gonna post a link here as soon as I get it pulled up for the commercial vegetable crops production manual over a good I’ve got one shoot I’m having trouble finding the one from Purdue I have the one from Minnesota though okay I’m gonna put up a link here to the Minnesota’s commercial craft production manual and that could be one resource for for finding out who which crops are gonna be heavy feeders on what okay I just listed the one from Purdue that the Midwest vegetable production guide perfect and Stevenson yeah that’s handbook for veg Doc’s handbook yeah that’d be the best one yeah yeah for for the person who was asking and I’m sorry I’m forgetting your name all of a sudden that it’s it’s really it’s family it’s vegetable family dependent and this crap dependent everybody’s gonna feed slightly differently on different nutrients so use those resources we listed Mike thank you so much for sticking around for a little extra time and getting all these questions answered folks thank you for sticking around as well and listening to get some of these answers I think it’s important stuff this is foundational stuff for a small farm it really is and

next week’s webinar the topic is do you recall next week’s webinar is going to be on geez I’m forgetting all of a sudden just one second farm pond ecology great our colleague Dave shyly is going to be talking about managing your farm pond for desirable plants and fish so he’s an ecologist and a forest a forest ecologist and Natural Resources you Cal just real good at this topic so if you want to learn a little bit more about farm ponds please do join us next week thanks Matt thank you Mike we appreciate you all being here we’ll talk to you next time take care bye bye