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Soils
Ward Laboratories uses soil test methods developed and calibrated by land grant universities.  Standard methods are published in several manuals.  We prefer to use standard methods that have performed well for many years. Soil pH & EC: We use a 1:1 water pH.  This means we measure 10 grams of soil and 10 mL of...
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Management of the physical properties of soil often translate to managing a plant’s access to water, either by increasing effective rooting area or increasing water holding capacity. Available water holding capacity (AWC) is the quantity of total plant available water a soil can provide to a growing crop. This is a soil health test offered...
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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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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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First cutting is starting to come in for NIRS analysis here at Ward Laboratories, INC. That means it’s the season for making hay! So, let’s take a look at how agricultural testing can help producers make quality hay from seeding to feeding! Match the hay production system to resources and environment. Observe the field intended...
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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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