Want a peek inside the soul of your soil? Dig a little!

Joe Christner, Water Quality Technician

September 21, 2018

Where has the summer gone? For many farmers the corn silage harvest is almost complete and a few farmers are harvesting early corn and soybeans. Some gardens are still producing or may be finished depending on the produce grown. During harvest we can observe and measure the production from our fields and gardens. We are seeing the results of the work, management, and dollars that were invested in growing the crops and produce. It is the best time to evaluate what we got based on what we did or didn’t do.

There are many factors that can affect yield and production but soil health has a major role. Soil is the engine that drives farm production. How do you know if your soil is functioning at full potential? Yield monitors are a great tool to measure crop production but what about a tool to measure soil function? This is the tool.

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Why not throw one in the pickup or combine this fall and take a little time to evaluate your soil function as well as your yield? Dig in to your soil to discover what your soil can tell you about its production potential. Soil is a living system, and healthy soil should look, smell, and feel alive.

Healthy productive soil is darker in color, crumbly, and porous. It is home to worms and other organisms that squirm, creep, or crawl. The soil structure should look like cottage cheese and fall apart. Highly productive soil will be fill of roots going straight down. It will have a sweet, earthy smell. Dead, unproductive soil has a sour, metallic odor. Unhealthy, poorly functioning soil appears lighter in color, is compacted or has poor structure, and contains limited roots and living things.

Understanding how healthy soils look smell, and feel are the first steps toward achieving highly functioning soils that are the engine for healthy plants and increased profits. The next step is to implement a soil health management system. Contact Holmes SWCD at 330-674-2811 to learn more about a plan to improve soil function.

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Joe Christner, Water Quality Technician

Joe Christner came to Holmes SWCD in 2001 with experience and knowledge drawn from 20-plus years of dairy farming. He grew up on a small farm near New Bedford, Ohio. His background interest and involvement in agriculture from the time he was a young man give him an empathy and understanding of the needs and concerns of today’s farmers. Joe can assist you with conservation plans for your farming operation, including nutrient management planning and record keeping. Water quality, soil health, and conserving the resources needed for the next generation and beyond is very important to Joe.
Contact Joe at 330-674-2811 or jchristner@co.holmes.oh.us