Maximizing Bad Soil
13 Nov 2311 min 11 sec

Who has the worst soils?/ Who has the best Soils? How do you maximize below-average soils? Damian Mason talks with Kevin Matthews and Concept AgriTek’s Tyler Meyer about making the most of below-average soils.

00:00 Sometimes you don't want to admit it. Sometimes it almost becomes a competition over who has bad soils, who has the worst soils? You've heard the banter with us at extreme Ag. 00:09 We're talking today about maximizing below average soils. Welcome back to the Farm Progress Show. 00:15 I'm sitting here at the concept agritech boo. I got Kevin Matthews with Extreme Ag and I've got Tyler Meyer with concept Agritech. We threw this topic out there that I think is a good one. 00:26 Maximizing below average soils. Maybe it's almost a prideful thing. Oh, my soil's not that bad. Or sometimes like, oh, wait a minute, my soil's bad. 00:34 That's why I don't get big yields either way. We always talk about soils, how good they are, how bad they are, who has better soils. Let's face it, 00:41 many of us have soils that could probably be a touch. Better maximize them. Give it to me, Kevin. 00:47 You've got some soils in North Carolina on your farm that you'd like to be a little bit more ice state. 00:53 Then there's somebody in the United State that also has something they wish was a little bit more ice state. It never is. 00:58 We've all got soils that are comparatively below average to somebody. Yeah. Well, you know, when we talk about soils, 01:05 we need to understand what we're talking about, you know, is the soil type. That can be anything. You know, our farm, we got every soil type they are, 01:13 but the key takeaway is what size, what size fuel tank have we got to store energy for them crops. So our cation exchange capacity, our c e c of our soils, 01:23 what we're looking at is, um, we've got some down in the sixes on real sandy beet sand. Yep. And that's like 14 foot deep sand. 01:30 Luckily we got irrigation on most of that now. Yep. Then we've got some, you know, an average of our farm, Damien, 01:36 we're probably about a 12 c e C across our farm, and the highest we got is 22. And you would think the 22 would be our best soils, 01:44 but it's actually the hardest one for me to manage. Yep. Yep. Okay. So he, he's, 01:49 he's gonna throw it out there and the person viewing this relation is gonna say is, is the poorness or goodness of a soil really come down to the c e c? 01:58 Not necessarily. That's one component, right? Oh, organic matter obviously slope PH soil 02:02 Type pH, where it sits, how it lays high, low, whatever. We didn't even talk about rocks. We didn't talk about, we even talk about, uh, 02:11 really, really thin no top soil type of sub, uh, soils. We didn't talk about soils that you inherit. That's all my soils. Thin, no top 02:18 Soil. We didn't talk about soils that you've inherited that have been, let's face it, mistreated and abused and eroded. 02:24 So there's really a bunch of different categories, but the the heck of it is, and what I've learned in my 26 months with these guys, 02:30 you can still maximize that. And more than ever, I think you can take a below average soil and get return on it. Whereas 10, 20, 40 years ago, I don't think you could, 02:39 'cause you didn't have the array of products or practices. Am I right? Yeah, no question. I mean, you know, just our irrigation alone, 02:44 we're taking that sand ridge that if you made 50, 60 bushels on, that was a good crop. If you made a hundred, it was amazing. Yeah. 02:52 And we're going 250 bushel corn on it. Yeah. And you know, the first time I picked 400 bushel corn, I thought that was awesome. 03:00 And then when I picked 250 bushel corn off the sand ridge, I mean, it was, it was way more pleasurable because I never dreamed it could be done. So, okay, 03:09 So irrigation, Tyler will fix, uh, sand, sand, uh, but let's say that's not, that's not the bulk of what we call poor soils. Um, sometimes I've got some sand, but I also don't generally need water. 03:20 I've just got an organic matter issue. I've got, um, Base saturations, you know, we get into that. Or even the balance of micros in there too, you know, 03:28 can really bring the averages Up. There you go. So let's start talking about maximizing it. He, he added water. That one. That's one way to maximize below average soils. 03:33 Gimme another method in the, in the toolbox of maximizing blood soils. You know, start with the high mag soils, you know, 03:39 gypsums your first go-to easy one or you know, we start looking at a lot of a m ss out there if say, gypsum isn't readily available, 03:45 you'll start looking at other tools in the toolbox that maybe the co-op has that you know, you can utilize there. Um, next thing too is, you know, your micro, 03:53 it's been really focusing hard a lot on that, uh, with a lot of guys on those poor conditions and just, Hey, let's balance this out and start there. And, you know, 04:02 trying to utilize whether it's dry or liquid throughout the season, plant or, uh, foer side dress, things like that, and try to help maximize those. 04:09 Everything That Tyler mentioned, Kevin is really about a, this season, this crop kind of a thing. Let's talk about building for the long haul. 04:16 The one where I was at your field day two years ago, you talked about organic matter increase, which people think you can't do. You've increased organic matter. Therefore the porosity, 04:25 therefore the water holding, uh, how long it take you, I'll tell you, it takes on the irrigation, it takes less time than it does dry land because you've got a controllable then 04:34 that you can control. But typically, so we took that particular farm at the field Bay and over a seven year period, or actually eight year period, 04:43 we went from a less sub 1% organic matter to a 3.6% organic matter. And what does that is big 04:51 Crops is what? Big Crops, big root systems and good cover crops. Yeah. That combination. And so he, you know, Tyler was just speaking about the calcium, you know, 05:01 the magnesium levels. We got high mag soils, so we're fighting the calcium mag ratio from that farm. When we started, it was basically one to one. And that ain't good. I mean, that's brick stuff, 05:12 you know that. Yeah, yeah. Yep. And so we got it. Now we're at seven to one, seven times the calcium. We have magnesium and uh, 05:19 so we're getting that flocculation in the soil and the roots are so much easier to get through the forest and it's not taking as much water for the crops 05:27 because there's so much More, a little bit more organic matter. You get some more water retention capacity. Yeah. 05:32 That's a little longer haul thing. But let's keep going back, let's keep juxtaposing longer term, maximizing pore soils to short term. 05:39 You talked about micronutrients. Um, why do I need more micronutrients to help, uh, below average soil this year? 05:47 So, biggest thing there is you can't take up more nitrogen, for example, in a corn crop without having the balance of that zinc and that manganese and 05:56 that sulfur in there. Or the molly, you know, Molly's one of those that we don't touch on quite a bit. That that is a huge driver in that as well. So that's where, you know, 06:04 just you can have long season, but still short season, we can make up a lot of distance as well. Other short term fixes, if you picked up 120 acres, oh wait, in your pro world, 06:14 that'd be, that'd be a lot because your fields are small. You pick up an 80 tomorrow, whatever, it's, 06:20 and it's been a little bit mistreated and it's below average soil. What's your first remedy? 06:24 Well, the first thing, I'm gonna do a soil sample and see what I got. Yep. And then, then I'm gonna go in and once I know what I got, you know, 06:31 more than likely in my area it's gonna be high mag low calcium. So then I'm gonna start looking at managing that plant. So I'm, 06:38 I'm going after my soil, so I'm definitely going to attack that. But then I'm gonna manage that plant and I'm gonna be applying a lot more 06:45 calcium with that plant that I normally wouldn't be applying if I had it in my soils because I, it's not plant available. It's all tied up with my high mag. 06:52 Have anything, we're talking agronomically here and farmer here. If you picked it up, we're recording this at the Farm Progress Show. 06:58 It's the end of August. Let's say you figure out that you've got this new chunk of ground you're gonna either buy or rent beginning next year. 07:04 When do you start you full soil samples this fall? Yep. Then when's your first practice? Uh, Depending on what the soil sample say, 07:12 I'm probably going to be throwing some lime and some gypsum out there. I'm gonna use a, if I, you know, in this scenario we're high mag low calcium, 07:19 so I'm gonna be doing a calci lime. I'm gonna be running, uh, some gyps and I'm gonna be bringing that number up as fast as it can. 07:26 But you can bring it too fast. 'cause you can cause another problem. Okay. So we gotta be careful. And then I'm gonna be getting, 07:32 I'm gonna be getting with my agronomist and figuring out what foliar products I got to manage these limitations that my soil's going to provide. 07:41 I'm gonna get that on hand. And I'm gonna start at planting. It might be zinc that I need. I'll be putting zinc in for it may, 07:48 it could be a, a ball that's All soil samples this fall, Lyme and some other treatments. December, January, February. I'm presuming, uh, your planter's gonna go out there in the spring. 08:00 Uh, I didn't hear chicken litter. I didn't hear any manure. I didn't hear any, uh, big usages of synthetic fertilizer. 08:08 Is that something that I didn't hear for a reason? No. We'll use the chicken litter, uh, where we have been farming at, and then, uh, when we can incorporate it into that next farm because, you know, 08:20 our houses go out. So we kind of got a place with freight where it fits, but we don't have enough to go over our whole farming operation, 08:28 the size operation that we are. So we do rely on the synthetic fertilizers, but it does not take as much synthetic fertilizer when you're using the right 08:38 fertilizers at the right time and the right place. Okay. I want to, I wanna key off of that. It just said it does not take as much quantity of synthetic if the other 08:46 conditions were Balanced, correct? Yep. Soil balance. Mm-hmm. The plant soil. 08:51 Okay. Plant and soil. Yep. Okay. One thing too is the salt. You know, we talk a lot about the salts and a lot of this stuff too. 08:57 So why take a farm that's been abused and let's throw more salt at it, right? Isn't that the whole reason or the solution to everything? 09:04 If it got a salty steak, let's pour more salt on it. Right. Okay. So Tyler, that probably would've been a thing not that long ago. Oh, 09:10 this has been abused, it's never been fertilized. I'm gonna go out there and just crank the hell outta the fertilizer And hey, I mean, the guy's done a great job of what they had to work with. 09:17 Mm-hmm. But the technology now we've learned Yeah. That there's so many other products out there, whether, whether it's a growth hormone, a biological, you know, 09:26 there's just so many things out there Hum for it's amazing. It's more work to fix a bad, 09:31 it's more work to farm bad soils than it is to farm good soils. Well, 09:35 If it was easy, I would, I don't know. I never had good soils. I can't say. But you also, but you also can get, if, if the money is there, 09:42 where do you make your most money? Do you make, it comes down to dollars per acre? Do you make more dollars per acre on the highest case rent, best soil you have? 09:49 Or do you make more on something that's a little bit below average, but you just have to work at it? Yeah. 09:54 I always like taking something nobody else wanted and making it great and then everybody wants it. That's, I mean, that's what I, 09:59 That's the stuff we can afford. Yeah. I mean, I, I enjoy that part. Never give up. Never give up. Don't just focus on the soil. Focus on the whole program, focus on the plant, 10:09 focus on everything there. I'm not the farmer, nor am I the agronomist, but my observation would be we have better tools in our toolbox now than we did 10:17 not that long ago. You get, if you had crappy ground, best you could do is graze it. And I think we got better, we got better options in tools in our toolbox now. 10:25 And, and never ever forget your pH, never forget your pH PH Organic matter can be improved. If you can irrigate sand, 10:35 obviously that's gonna be a big one right there. Pay attention to your, uh, CECs and farm as such. 10:40 Highest c c soils don't necessarily equate to your best soils, uh, compaction something that many people don't over that they overlook and think 10:47 that that's not an issue. They, they don't think they have it, is that it. Get into planning populations. 10:54 So that's a whole nother can of worms right there. That'll Be the next time we cover this. His name's Kevin Matthews. 10:58 His name is Tyler Meyer. I'm Damien Mason. Coming at you from Farm Progress Show Concept Agritech Booth 2023, talking to you about maximizing your below average soils.

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