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Agronomy Talk

N. Indiana & Michigan - Denny Cobb, CPAG

Restoring Soil Health After Harvest

Published on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

As harvest progresses, you will see yield variabilities that are unparalleled. For many farmers, this will be a first time experience! You will see hybrids and varieties respond with wide yield swings. Just about any stress you can think of has shown up in our region this growing season. Rainfall intensity and frequent occurrences, planting delays, nitrogen losses, and compaction are the big four. Any one, or a combination of these, will hinder product performance this year.

Soil health in these extreme conditions is at an all-time low. Ponded and drowned out acres are easy to identify — no vegetation and lots of moss growth. The “intermediate” or “middle third” of affected fields is where the big question looms. Compaction (pinch-row and tomahawked roots) are very apparent in these areas. Yield potential is reduced, but we won’t accurately know how much until the combines roll. Many farmers are hoping for a dry fall to correct both 2014 and 2015 compacted areas. It’s easy to think steel will help, it is more important to restore soil health by rejuvenating fungal and bacterial activity. For this reason, a seeding of cereal rye or any other similar cover crop that provides a food source for our underground soil factory of microorganisms is important and highly suggested!

Author: Denny Cobb

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