No-till versus Tillage—In the Midwest, about three-fourths of all soybeans and wheat are planted without prior tillage. But before corn is planted at least three-fourths of the fields are tilled in the fall and possibly tilled again in the spring. Farmers are tilling ahead of corn planting because they perceive a yield increase with tillage that is more than enough to cover the added direct costs for machinery, fuel, and labor. Typically, soybeans are no-tilled into corn stalks followed by soybean residue being tilled for corn planting the next year.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 enacted a federal renewable fuels standard (RFS) in order to increase rural economic activity and reduce U.S. dependence on imported liquid fuels. One mandate contained in the RFS is that the United States will consume 100 million gallons of ethanol produced from cellulose in calendar 2010, rising to 16 billion gallons in calendar 2025.
Liquid animal manure is a valuable source of nutrients and organic matter for crop production and can be applied by a variety of methods including spray irrigation, land surface spreading, and shallow subsurface injection. Because of relatively low nutrient concentration, liquid animal manure may be applied at relatively high volumes, but it is generally recommended that it not be applied at rates that exceed the soil infiltration rate, nor exceed the amount needed to bring the soil to field water holding capacity (Johnson and Eckert, 1995).
Cover Crops Rotations after Cash Grain Crop—Cover crops offer many benefits for agriculture that include erosion control; reduced compaction and nutrient leaching; increased water infiltration; improved soil biodiversity; weed control and disease suppression; increased carbon sequestration and maximum nutrient recycling; improved air, soil, and water quality; and wildlife enhancement. Every cover crop species has its own niche and attributes for agricultural production.
Oilseed radish is a unique cover crop that farmers are planting to improve their soil quality for economic crop production. It has the ability to recycle soil nutrients, suppress weeds and pathogens, break up compaction, reduce soil erosion, and produce large amounts of biomass. Freezing temperatures of 20° to 25° will kill oilseed radish which allows for successful no-till spring planting of subsequent crops. As a fast growing, cool season cover crop, oilseed radish is best utilized when planted after small grain (e.g. wheat) or corn silage harvest.
There is a need for farmers and growers to be able to evaluate soil quality in the field to help guide sustainability of agricultural management practices. Since soil organic matter (SOM) is the most widely acknowledged core indicator of soil quality, temporal changes in small but relatively active fractions of SOM may provide an early indication of soils' functional capability in response to management practices.
Questions often arise as to what constitutes a fair rental price. Since there is not a commercial market for pasture, determining the price often becomes a matter of bargaining. Supply and demand is probably the most important factor in determining the price. If there is a large quantity of pasture available in a given area and very few farmers needing extra pasture, rents may be low. Likewise, if there were little pasture acreage for rent but many farmers needing extra pasture, rents may be bid higher.
The Role of Gypsum as a Soil Amendment—Gypsum is hydrated calcium sulfate (CaSO4 • 2H2O), and is often marketed as a soil “conditioner” for improving soil “tilth.” Compared to most other calcium-rich soil amendments, such as limestone, gypsum is relatively soluble in water, dissolving up to 2 g per liter. The solubility of gypsum, when either incorporated or surface applied, permits a quick release of calcium (Ca2+) and sulfate (SO42-) ions into the soil solution.
Soil carbon sequestration is the process of transferring carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil through crop residues and other organic solids, and in a form that is not immediately reemitted. This transfer or "sequestering" of carbon helps off-set emissions from fossil fuel combustion and other carbon-emitting activities while enhancing soil quality and long-term agronomic productivity.
Interest in meat goats has grown rapidly in Ohio over the past 10 years. Goat is the most frequently consumed meat in the world. In the United States, meat goat production is growing because of goats’ economic value as efficient converters of low-quality forages into quality meat, milk and hide products for many specialty type markets.