Soil Health Archives - Ward Laboratories Inc.

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Soil Health
1. Soil Respiration The first part of the Haney Soil Health Test is soil respiration test or CO2 24 hr. burst test is an indicator of soil microbial biomass.  When we receive the sample we dry the soil over night at 110 F and then crush the soil and collect soil that passes through a...
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There are 5 principles of soil health as defined by the Natural Resources Conservation District. Armor the Soil (keep crop residue on the soil to prevent errosion)Minimal Soil Disturbance (No-Till)Plant Diversity (Grow more than just row crops, consider cover crop mixes)Keep a continual live root in the soil (again cover crops) But it is the...
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The Role of Bacteria Feeding soil microbes includes feeding fungi and bacteria present within the soil. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that are generally 4/100,000 of an inch wide and long. A teaspoon of healthy soil can contain between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria. Because of their abundance, bacteria play important roles in the way...
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In Early September, I wrote a blog post entitled The Downside of Baled Crop Residue. My previous post focused on cornstalks. After harvest, as I traveled across the state, I have observed we have more harvested crop residue to consider. Baling soybean and wheat residues are poor economic decisions and negatively impact soil health of...
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I recently had the opportunity to attend the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health and Grazing on behalf of Ward Laboratories, Inc.  If you missed out, the video recordings of the conference will be posted here.  The event was packed full of knowledgeable speakers and eager to learn producers.  Here are the key messages from...
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For many years I have seen producers bale their crop residue, specifically cornstalks and soybean stubble, after harvest. This practice has been driven somewhat by feedlot demand after the advent of distillers co-products from ethanol plants in the early 2000’s. Distillers co-products are high in protein and energy for livestock. Therefore,  there is a demand...
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Guest Author: Terry Buettner, Support Agronomist The ‘Bomb Cyclone’ that hit the Midwest on March 13th has created a huge problem for many Midwest producers. Heavy rains on frozen fields created runoff of an impressive magnitude resulting in flood damaged fields. The damaging effects of flood water on agriculture are extensive. Crop residue was washed...
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As the animal scientist here at Ward Laboratories, INC. my blog posts typically focus on how feed and forage testing can help producers reach animal production goals. However, at the American Foarage and Grasslands Council Annual Conference, soil sampling pastures came up as one of the top ways producers see as economically beneficial. So, this...
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We’ve all heard the Luke Bryan song “Rain is a Good Thing”. While it may be a catchy lyric, lack of rain can cause livestock producers to suffer from drought and heat stress issues, while too much rain can leave farmers dealing with flood damage.  This year has been especially testing from those aspects.  The...
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Phewy! Smell that? From an early age, we are often told the old phrase “That’s the smell of money!” Although this phrase is often used to indicate cattle profits, the manure in those pens also holds a wealth of resources that can help enrich and strengthen your soil. Once used routinely in integrated farming systems,...
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How many of us producers have a shovel in our pickup? When was the last time we used that shovel to thoroughly examine our soil?  Are we able to determine what a truly healthy soil looks like? Grab a shovel and take a look at your soil. Check out your soil profile. Does the shovel...
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Grazing cover crops can be a cost-effective way to achieve multiple productions goals.  Cover crops can provide ground cover to prevent erosion, improve soil health over time, and provide nutrition to beef cattle.  However, cover crops are not a fool proof feed.  Turning cattle out onto cover crops to graze without proper feed tests can...
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