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Poultry litter being incorporated into the soil during disking, a process that turns the soil and pulverizes it so that the litter will be mixed into it. Over a 3-year period, ARS scientists determined that yields were cumulatively higher in plots with litter applied in the spring rather than in the fall. (Photo by Haile Tewolde)

Poultry litter being incorporated into the soil during disking, a process that turns the soil and pulverizes it so that the litter will be mixed into it. Over a 3-year period, ARS scientists determined that yields were cumulatively higher in plots with litter applied in the spring rather than in the fall.
(Photo by Haile Tewolde)

A Mississippi-based Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researcher has learned that using poultry litter as fertilizer can help cotton growers in the Southeast maximize profits.

Poultry litter (chicken manure, spilled feed, excess feathers, and other poultry-house materials) contains nitrogen and phosphorus—both important crop nutrients. Applying poultry litter to the soil also recycles some of the tons of litter generated annually by poultry operations throughout the United States, says Haile Tewolde, an ARS agronomist at Mississippi State.

While more farmers are using poultry litter as fertilizer these days, there is little information about the amounts cotton growers should use to maximize profits. Continue reading

Revises Requirements for Importation and Interstate Movement of Plant Pests, Biocontrol Agents, and Soil

proposed rule
The comment period for APHIS’ proposed rule to revise the regulations in 7 CFR part 330 that govern the movement into and within the United States of plant pests, biological control agents, and soil, has been extended until April 19, 2017. This 30 day extension will give stakeholders and the public additional time to submit comments on the proposed changes. The proposed action will align plant pest regulations with current APHIS policies, remove obsolete requirements, streamline the permit process for low risk organisms, and update requirements for the import of foreign soil. Continue reading

The public is invited to a Soils Summit hosted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on healthy soil and climate smart agriculture. The meeting provides an opportunity to explore roles and collaborative opportunities for managing California soils for health and natural fertility while reducing greenhouse gases. Learn meeting date, time and more. →

by CDFA and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in California

world soil dayToday is World Soil Day, as recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of natural systems and a vital contributor to human well-being.

One of the primary building blocks of a successful civilization is developing a reliable food supply.  In California and the United States we have achieved this spectacularly.

However, our world population continues to skyrocket towards a projected nine billion people by 2050. And our planet is getting warmer and its climate less predictable.

But the solution may be closer than we realize.  It may be just below our feet: In the soil.

Soil supports our houses, roads, crops and our very lives. It silently churns microbial magic, turning carbon sources like old plants and animals into the nutrients needed to support new plant growth. When healthy, the soil ecosystem also harbors the ability to hold onto water molecules—and release them gradually, mitigating the climatic excesses of both floods and droughts. Continue reading

Crotalaria, cover crop keeps soil moisture, improves damage farmland, treats sour and acid soil.  soil health
An innovative workshop on climate-smart agriculture this week emphasized soil health as a key element in carbon sequestration efforts. Several powerhouse organizations and companies hosted the one-of-a-kind event in St. Louis, called “C-Quest: Charting a Course for Climate Research in Agriculture,” and featured the Soil Health Partnership as a leader in helping farmers adopt progressive practices. Continue reading

orchard recycling
California producers saw another option for orchard recycling. Organizers said this demonstration aimed to show growers different ways to perform this practice and keep producers thinking about the benefits recycling can have in their orchards.

Watch the video ->

By Sandra Avant, USDA

ARS scientists found antibiotic-resistant bacteria occurring naturally in undisturbed Nebraska prairie soils. Photo by ARS.

ARS scientists found antibiotic-resistant bacteria occurring naturally in undisturbed Nebraska prairie soils.
Photo by ARS.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in prairie soils that had little or no exposure to human or animal activity.

Antibiotics have effectively treated bacterial diseases for years, but some bacteria have developed resistance to the antibiotics that once killed them.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers are investigating agriculture-related antibiotic resistance and developing solutions to address food safety, animal production and protection, and the environment. Part of their efforts involves looking at antibiotic resistance in soils.

Continue reading

potato field
Plants need nitrogen to grow, but excess nitrogen – from livestock facilities, septic systems, car exhaust and other sources – that escapes into groundwater and the air can impact the environment, human health and the climate. A new report from the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis offers a big picture look at the scale and impacts of nitrogen in California.

Continue reading

Jesse Sanchez speaking on the farm

Jesse Sanchez speaking on the farm

Despite the growing interest in soil health in many parts of the country, the notion hasn’t captured the imagination of most farmers in California. The Golden State’s lackluster attention to soil care is likely due to “phenomenal yield increases over the past several decades, the sheer diversity of cropping systems, and widespread perception that California’s environment and crop production mix doesn’t lend itself to soil health improvements,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy specialist. Continue reading

salt levels
As the drought continues, monitoring salt levels in your water and in the soil moisture is important to avoid salinity issues.

Get the story ->

potting mix
Cathy Isom tells us how we can think outside the garden and create our own potting mix. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours. Hear Cathy’s report, watch the video and learn more. →

Claves (2.0) de la Taxonomía del Suelo Disponible en Español

soilThe 12th edition of the Keys of Soil Taxonomy were recently translated into Spanish, the 11th edition was the first. After decades of working with soil scientists from around the world, NRCS decided it was important to increase awareness and expand knowledge of the value of soil and its impact on all aspects of life. Many soil scientists and other professionals from Latin America, the United States, and other countries will benefit from this translation effort for years to come. According to NRCS leadership, the translation will expand the horizons of U.S. Soil Taxonomy by allowing professionals in all parts of the world to apply and interpret the system in a more uniform and consistent way. While soils differ globally, the ability to apply a system that is universally understood and accepted is a goal shared by many soil scientists. As the world struggles with global warming and other environmental challenges, having a universally accepted method that can be applied when soil problems are addressed will contribute to successful outcomes. Spanish translation. →

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State Holds Workshops On Fumigant Pesticide Notification, Seeks Ideas on Notification Process

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) will hold two workshops to hear ideas from various stakeholder groups on how to notify residents living around agricultural fields, when certain types of pesticides, known as fumigants, are applied.

Find out when and where ->

soil health
In the second chapter of his five-part mini-series, “Bringing the Science of Soil Health Home,” Buz Kloot, Ph.D. tells farmers and gardeners about the five key lessons he’s learned on his episodic soil health trek across the country.

Learn more. →

carbon offset
Incorporating organic matter (OM)  back into the soil can be an expensive endeavor, and research is looking into calculating the carbon offset and that may pay off in the future.

Get the story ->

soil care
Everett Griner talks about soil care being vital to good farming in today’s Agri View. Hear Everett’s report and learn more. →

Research is showing some big benefits of increasing organic matter in orchard soils and a resent demonstration showed just one way of doing so.

Get the story ->

soil health
David Harold’s holistic farming approach, based on building soil health through the use of diverse cropping rotations, diverse cover crop species and integrated grazing, is now the cornerstone of his business.


An impressive tree grinding demonstration showed growers the possibility of capturing organic matter from orchard removal. University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources hosted the event where IronWolf showed how their machine works. Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Brent Holtz talks about the research.

Read more about the research ->

Attendees and exhibitors from all over the United States and several countries came to the 49th annual World Ag Expo at the International Agri-Center to join in the largest annual outdoor agricultural expo in the world, which spans over 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space. The three-day show housed over 1,500 exhibitors and hosted a record-breaking 106,349 attendees. In 2015, World Ag Expo hosted 102,867 attendees.

Continue reading

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