4 Tips For Managing Low CEC Soils
14 Jun 2318 min 12 sec

Chad Henderson and Molly Alexander from AgroLiquid talk to Damian Mason about  4 big things that farmers should think about in order to get the most bang for their buck when farming on soils with lower cation exchange capacities.

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00:00 Hey, we're talking about managing low c e c soils. That is cation exchange capacity soils, if you're not agronomically inclined. And I didn't know what they were either until about a year and a half ago at 00:11 Commodity Classic. We're talking with Mile Alexander agronomist from the southeast with agro liquid. And of course Chad Henderson, our nude from Madison, Alabama with 00:18 That has low c c soils who Has, as it turns out, low c e c soils. So, I guess the first question, truly, and, and I mean you're the agronomist, 00:27 you like to pick on me for being the FFA soil judger that wanted to be an agronomist. And I'll admit, 00:32 I did not know what a low c e c soil was until a couple of years ago. Cation exchange capacity, what is it? 00:38 And then what's that mean to a low or high soil? C e c soil? So when you say cation exchange capacity, 00:45 that's specific specifically referring to where cations can attached on the soil profile? Yep. So cations are what you look at, like on your soil report, 00:55 it would be under your base saturation. So you have calcium, magnesium, um, hydrogen sodium, um, potassium. 01:04 So you have things like that. That's where your cations can go in there and they can attach to that root zone. So look at it as like a parking lot. 01:10 You only have so many parking spaces to be able to park there and get into that plant. So when we have low CECs, and when we say low, 01:18 we're talking like three maybe. You know that that's low for us. Even six is considered fairly low. That represents, 01:24 you have three parking spots. Okay? You have six parking spots. Okay. And if those things are occupied by other islands in the soil, 01:32 then that means that you have less opportunity for those nutrients applied to attach big factor nitrogen. Yeah. 01:39 If those are occupied and you've done put down 200 pounds of nitrogen, but you can only get so much into three parking spots, 01:46 are you really getting the most out of applying more nitrogen? No. So it's a big factor. 01:50 So, so by the way, you told me before when we were prepping for this four big things when it comes to attaining good yields from a low CEC soil mm-hmm. 02:00 And I'm going on memory here because you're the smart one. Nitrogen stabilization is a big thing too that you have to manage. Mm-hmm. 02:05 Base saturation, which of course we're gonna explain all these things. You said nutrient utilization and allocation. Mm-hmm. 02:10 And then nutrient saturation, is that the other thing? Loss. Nutrient loss. Okay. So Chad, um, yeah, I don't want to be like the guy that goes around, 02:18 maybe like some, uh, some people like maybe Kelly that has really good soils and says, Hey, you got low c c soils. I mean, that's almost kind of like weird it, 02:27 what are you saying? But you do, I think about my souls as a screen door. Mm-hmm. Like Right. You know, Kelly's soul is like a shop rag. You know, 02:35 you can pour a lot more water through a screen door than you can a shop rag uhhuh. Right. So in, in essence, am I wrong here? Tell me if I'm wrong. 02:41 No, it's a very good analogy actually. So I come up with something every once in a while. Every once in a while. But, so, but it's not about what you, um, in some ways it's a blessing. 02:49 It is some ways it's a curse. If I have a problem out in the field, I'm a whole, it's a whole lot easier for me to get the problem fixed because it runs through 02:56 the soil easier. Mm-hmm. Right. And we can address the problem. So in that way, it's a good thing. Yeah. And the bad way is I can't hold anything. 03:02 But when you understand that your soil won't hold, but so much of the nutrients you're trying to apply and understanding for a whole season, this is how much you need to put on. You just gotta trick it in. 03:13 Agreed. Thank you. Okay. So The big thing is, and and of course when you say that one would think sand, one would think, okay, if it's a screen door, it's obviously very porous. 03:21 We're at a shop rag or even a sponge. It's A, it's, it's just already equates to a number. Ours are seven to nine, which is fairly good, you know, I mean, for us it's fairly good. It's not, 03:30 you know, so, and in some parts in Georgia three, yeah, You come down there in the sands, it South Georgia, it's three is. So we're kind of blessed to be where we're at. It's a good, 03:37 happy medium to tell you the truth, you know, of getting nutrients through it, but not holy. Mm-hmm. Now, but it just requires you to farm in a different way. 03:44 Real Quickly about that, does it have to be sandy? Cuz some of his stuff's not. Sandy does it? Does low c e c always equate to sand or not? 03:52 Is that, am I making a false co false correlation? Um, a lot of the times it will refer to sand, but that is not a generalization. So that like we, him, if you look at the ground right here, it's red. Is it not? 04:03 Yeah. So this is clay. So red clay base. Yeah. It's just basically, it's what I mean in a nutshell. It's what you said. 04:08 It's what the good lord blessed you with. Okay. So there's ways that you can improve it. So like in sand, we really try to put a base down to build organic matter, just like you, 04:19 we were talking about earlier. Because organic matter is gonna allow us to increase, um, our Cs. Yep. 04:26 It's gonna give us a lot more surface area to uptake those nutrients and to hold onto those nutrients. Um, 04:31 here in this red clay we've run into what compaction do we not, it gets cloudy. It gets hard, like walking across it now it's just, it's hard. 04:40 There's not a lot of percolation by water. Water moves nutrients. So this may be low c, 04:46 e C because we're not able to actually get as many attachment sites because there's not enough runoff and into the soil as what we need. 04:53 Molly, we're promising four things that you told me in the truck when we were on our way to prepare this, uh, production here. 04:59 You said there's four things that are big and we said, okay, let's go with that one. Nutrient laws. So my, 05:04 if I'm thinking to Chad's point that water is pouring through, it's very po porosity is a big issue here. That's good. 05:12 Except porosity usually means doesn't get compacted, et cetera, et cetera. However, it also means that everything you put in is going is is being leached. 05:19 So nutrient loss, let's start with that one. How do you manage around that? So first and foremost, 05:24 what we wanna do is do we not wanna create a healthier root zone? Because if we have a healthier root zone, a bigger root, 05:30 that gives us a lot more to hold, to hold. It gives us more opportunity to get the nutrients that are running through that soil into that plant. 05:37 And in, in crops that are not wheat, such as our wheat, I mean such as our soybeans and our corn. Mm-hmm. We address, we address the, uh, root zone. Yeah. So we can't fix the whole field, 05:48 but we can fix the root zone, you know, products that they've got and we'll address the root zone. Which is why you always hear Molly talking and leaning on fulk real heavy in the 05:57 southeast. You know, because we're trying to make available the things we already have. Okay. Then nutrient loss is one of 'em. 06:02 And you said nutrient allocation and nutrient Uh uh, nutrient allocation and nutrient uh, allocation and utilization. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So I think those tie right there with nutrient loss in that. 06:13 That's where you talk about spoon feeding. And Matt's talked about this in the delta of Arkansas. If he tried to put all his fertility, which he used to do out there pre-season, 06:22 by mid-season, it's leached away. Exactly. Okay. So one of your big things is spoon feeding gives you the allocation mm-hmm. And the utilization and prevents the loss. Is that reasonable? It 06:32 Does. That's correct. So it think of the sand. So if we have a CEC of three and we go heavy inputs on the MP and K, so we've got a lot of nitrogen and we've put a lot of phosphorus down, 06:41 we've put some K down with it. If we put all that heavy loaded up front and we only have three parking spots, but we have 50 cars there, 06:50 how long is it gonna be before those cars start leaving? Because there's no parking spots to go. 06:54 It's exact same analogy in that soil profile. So if you will spoon feed it in, that gives you more opportunity for what you put down to actually 07:02 Used. Yes. To actually get uptake in the plant, which is something we talk a lot About. And then too, it's another thing, 07:07 it's learning and understanding how much the plant needs at what point, because everything's made in, you know, 07:12 we try to treat all our nutrients early in the plant's life when a lot of them don't need it. Right. And then when we start filling grain, 07:18 when we start making grain, we start putting on pods, you know, whether it's kernels, pods, grains, whichever it is, 07:24 we need to pack them things full. Well that requires a nutrient load, a sugars load, it requires a load from the plant that you're depending on. 07:30 It's staying there from when you addressed it three months ago. Okay. And pulling it up. That's not our case. 07:36 For example, corn, nitrogen, you know, is very dependent on nitrogen. Guys want a heavy load corn on the front end and then they all come back with a 07:43 side dress. What It, it's not about, it's not as much about, I don't think in the farmer's eyes as them not knowing as much as it is about, 07:50 it's not easy to do And it's not, it's Spoonfeeding requires more passe trip requires more paying attention. It Requires, it 07:57 Requires more man hours, more equipment Time. It requires, Well think about, uh, you know, the 60% at tassel, how tall is the corn? Yeah. 08:05 And unless you have a high void and to go over it or an airplane, you're probably gonna miss that application. I love this 08:10 By the way. Irrigation system. This is almost a spirited of a discussion as tissue sampling. Oh, we can go There, man. Oh 08:15 No, no, no. And her can disagree. We just get right on that page. I loved It when Molly said, I said, 08:19 I think we're gonna address low c e c soils because Chad has them. And she says, I can talk about this all day and you guys haven't disagreed so far, 08:25 but I wanna bring you to the next one. Nitrogen stabilization. Mm-hmm. Uh, it's a big thing. It's been going on. 08:30 It's been a big topic for 50 years and mm-hmm. The first products came out a long, long time ago. Is it harder to do here than it would be say in in a soil that's a high c c? 08:38 It probably is. Not necessarily. Okay. So what's the story there? So There's different, I got 08:44 A question. Hit me. Is it, do we want to, should we be stabilizing more or less here On which application? Any, 08:55 because 90% of your inputs up front are dry, correct? Yes. Okay. They Should all be stabilized. 09:01 Well, you, I mean there are stabilizers geared for the dry. So urea, you have your coating. 09:05 So you have different products that will treat the dry urea. However, though urea is geared for a volatility control because it lays on the surface. 09:13 So you have heat units, you have the sun, you have UV rays, it's all breaking it down. So volatility means it gased off. 09:19 So you're not getting the full amount out of apri of urea able to percolate and go into the soil in a nitrogen source. Vaporizes, because it's vaporized out, 09:28 Goes out to the atmosphere. So there's coatings for that that you can do up front. Okay. However, I cannot stress this enough. I don't care what stabilizer you put on that. 09:37 It goes right back to our same point that by the time you come in at Sidedress, do you really think that even with a stabilizer, 09:42 there's still enough there to get 300? Did you Like how I served it in? I I do. I mean it's, I gotta tell you, this is, I mean this is some of my favorite stuff. 09:50 Standing in your fields with the agro liquid people has produced some of my favorite topics of all time. Okay. Next thing. Um, base saturation. 09:58 I don't know for sure what that means. And I know that you can explain it and tell me how Chad manages that. He said there's four things, just like, Hey, don't four keys, 10:08 four keys to four keys to getting successfully on you. Exactly. You just don't realize you're doing it. So of our fourth key, 10:13 this is our fourth key cause now we did, we did that. So Saturation. Well just like I said earlier, uh, 10:17 you referred to CC cation exchange capacity. Well, bay saturation is a measurement of your cations in your soil. Yep. And bay saturation. When you get a soil report, 10:27 that's one of the first things that I look at when I get one to analyze. Because that tells me immediately what's available in the soil. 10:34 Your other factors in there. So like your ppms of phosphorus and sulfur and things like that, that just tells you what's in the soil. 10:41 That doesn't necessarily mean it's available, it just tells you what's in there. So you could have high amounts of phosphorus and still need FO to add 10:48 phosphorus. This is something that we never even thought about, uh, until, I mean recently because it used to be, well wait, the stuff's there. 10:55 But then we started talking about utilization. Utilization. Mm-hmm. And, and, and getting it uptake. Uptake. Uptake. 11:00 So base saturation is a kind of very much correlated to uptake and utilization of the stuff. 11:06 It is. So think calcium. Yep. It's a cat on. Yep. But it's also a huge antagonist in the soil. Yep. Where it does have very good properties as far as pH and um, structure, 11:16 plant structure, things like that. Calcium is a huge factor. But there's a baseline that we look at on the base saturation. 11:22 So there's a value 65 to 75% on your base saturation is ideal. Okay. Even if you're in that ideal range, calcium is still an antagonist. 11:31 It will tie up your phosphorus, it will tie up a lot of different things in the soil. Yep. So we wanna make sure when we look at that base saturation on a soil report, 11:39 that we are somewhere within those close values that are listed out. But again, on the CEC that we go back to, 11:47 if we have a high amount of hydrogen values on there, hydrogen to me is like a filler in the soil. So if our calcium's lacking, our magnesium's lacking hydrogen slips in there as a filler hydrogen's loosely 11:59 bonded, it can take off and go with anybody else. Right. Back to the nitrogen stabilizer. So does 12:04 It, do you, does hydrogen do you No. Good. I mean, in other words, if it's there, if it, it has no value, it 12:08 Does have value. It does have, it does create other elements in the soil as well. And it helps for a carrier because I mean, like I said, 12:14 water's a huge factor in, in water and oxygen. All right. So Agreed. Agreed. The four things that we've talked about, the easiest thing, 12:21 nitrogen stabilization has been around for quite a while. We've understood that and we're gonna understand it more cuz of environmental 12:27 pressure. I should think. Yes. Nutrient allocation and utilization. I think that's goes back to the spoon feeding. Yep. We've covered that. 12:33 A lot of extreme ag, you know, putting the product out there when it can be uptaken by the plant versus just putting that there when it hangs around the soil. And 12:41 You know down too, I mean you gotta look back from the years where my dad was farming, where there wasn't a lot of products available. There wasn't as many, you know, 12:46 ag agri liquid was there, but there wasn't pushing envelope. They didn't have the technology they got now to provide us with the tools to 12:52 better spoon feed. Yep. You know, so we're getting better tools. We're using 'em as farmers to do a better job. 12:57 Spoon feeding and not front loading, not getting any runoff. You know, things of that. And we've 13:01 Also talked a lot about, you know, why drops to foliar to the different ways we can tuba two Two by 13:07 To getting the stuff out there. And then I think the other one, umm, looking at my notes over here, it was nutrient uh, uh, loss. 13:15 That's building a big root base is something most people wouldn't have thought. You know, nutrient loss. You'd think, oh, cover crops are, I think, uh, 13:21 you know, organic matter increase, which those are all good. We're talking about running through the soil. Yeah. It's running off. 13:27 And so the root getting roots, which then you think about some of the stuff we've talked about using a plant growth regulator in your planting or stress mitigation products, 13:35 planting helps you get a bigger root mass more quickly. Yeah. Yep. There's several things that, that will contribute to a better root mass. 13:42 You know, and that's one of the things that will, but that's what we gotta have. We just gotta do a better job of building the soil profile and looking at what 13:49 we have. And un if you understand what the good Lord give you, cuz again, it's hard to change those numbers. Yep. You know, 13:54 certain numbers you can change certain ones you can't, you know, but when you understand that, 13:58 then you can understand how to farm around those things. It's a balance. 14:01 It has to be balanced because if anything gets out of the balance, that's when problems start to occur. 14:07 And then base saturation was the fourth one. Cause we talked about managing these four things for bigger yields on low c e c soils, base saturations. One, I was the most clueless about coming into this. 14:16 And so the, the quickie on base saturation that we can like say, okay, this is what I need to know is base saturation. 14:25 What I thought we went over base saturation. I know, but just the quick, the the one thing that I can change. You want 14:29 The elevator pitch? Yeah. The way, the way to change or to to work with that? Uh, well, I don't know if the easiest so the two Okay. 14:37 To break that down into a smaller thing because hydrogen, like I said's a filler. It's a, it's kind of a smaller factor. Yep. Magnesium, 14:43 a little bit smaller factor. Um, calcium is a big one, but the calcium magnesium ratio is a big thing in bay saturation. So it should be higher than three. So 14:53 The best way to manage a base saturation problem is to make sure you're balanced on micros. Yes, exactly. 14:58 Micro elements. Okay. So if those are balanced, then you have a lot better uptake of what nutrients that you're putting down. If they get out of balance, that's where problems start happening. 15:07 And that's where a high mag soil is like walking across white looking concrete. Yeah. It's super tight. Heavy pack soils, you gotta be able to address that. 15:15 You can address that with calcium, uh, cal citic line. Dolomite. Gypsum. Yep. Different things like that. 15:21 Last question. Can you increase your CAT in exchange capacity? Can you go from a seven to a 10 or a 10 to a 12 or any, I mean, and, 15:30 and is it possible or necessary? If you want it, go ahead with your organic matter speech. If you increase organic matter, does it increase cation exchange capacity? 15:39 Presumably. I don't, I don't know. You know, we can increase the cat. The only way we can say that we can increase it. 15:46 I don't know if it'll increase it in papers. There's people that's done work and even with your, like the amount of fulks that we can put in there, 15:53 we can change the ccs in that band. Mm-hmm. And that's what we're trying to do. We're maybe we can manipulate, I wouldn't say change, 16:01 I would say manipulate. We're We're trying with some things we're doing in ATU two or the wide drop. Yep. We can manipulate the root zone mm-hmm. 16:09 And make it think it has a better CC than what it does. A CC is still there. That's it. It's still the number that it see is can't really, 16:15 It can't change that. But we can make it think it has a different CCC for the uptake that it's getting. Got it. Make any sense at all? It does. And 16:22 Then the other thing that's a great way to organic matter would if you could increase the organic matter by a percent, would it increase the cec? 16:31 No, no. It wouldn't organic matter. It, if you increase organic matter, it actually increases your, uh, holding capacity for nutrients. 16:40 And if you have more organic matter on sands, which is extremely low C easy like we said. Yeah. Yeah. It's actually gonna keep it from eroding and blowing away. So 16:48 That's good. It's very positive to have an increase in organic matter, but it's not gonna change your c So 16:51 When we was farming, when we was farming cotton, something like cotton or organic matter on these farms, well somewhere around half to 1%. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Because cotton's a tree. 16:59 It's a taker. Yeah. Okay. You know, and it's just what it is. Well, when we, on our farms, now that we've done wheat beans, corn, all this, 17:06 we don't belly any straw. All of us putting back all the corn fodders, putting back all them nutrients we put back, we've changed all ground. 17:12 It's took me 20 years. Yeah. But you but we've changed it from a 1%. Now we have from a two, five to a three, which is 17:17 Great. Oh, Nice. And, and that's what we've done. But, but it's a lot. You have to put it back into the soil Yeah. To do that. And it's a long process. 17:24 It's not something you're gonna fix in a minute. It's gonna take a minute to, to fix that, you know, and, and it's not really a fix, 17:30 it's just what you're working with, you know. Well, and like you said, there's products out there to manipulate, manipulate that and make it a better, healthier root zone. Mm-hmm. 17:37 Until you can fix it. I proposed this topic because I thought it was a neat thing based on, uh, what we've seen here. You 17:43 Thought we was gonna fight. Well there's always that. I mean, you know, antagonism is kind of one of my specialties. Yep. But anyway, uh, low CEC soils, 17:52 you might have 'em, maybe you don't. And this is a great topic because probably there's some management stuff here. You picked up on how to get big yields out of, uh, low CEC soils. 18:00 Till next time, thanks for being here. More Great information. Extreme ag.farm. Share this with somebody that can use it and they can prosper. 18:07 Thank you so much for being her.

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