Soil Sampling, Rotation Benefits

You should be well on your way in crop planning for 2019, and if you haven’t done fall soil sampling you’d better get moving. I like fall soil sampling much better than sampling at any other time of year; more time to do a good job than during the spring rush, and (particularly for soil test K) fall soil sampling likely provides more reliable results. Use the same soil test lab every year, or if this isn’t possible use labs that use the same soil extractant. If you do this you can compare soil test results from year to year as well as over several years. This can help evaluate the impact of your manure and fertilizer program.

If you’re going to plant corn for more than five years in a field there’d better be a very good reason for doing so. Continuous corn has higher applied N needs (manure and/or commercial fertilizer) and is more likely to have insect and disease problems. Pesticides don’t control insect problems nearly as effectively as a good rotation plan. First-year corn yields are often the highest on the farm — and the least expensive per ton of silage. Even if milk prices do improve modestly, 2019 will probably be another tough year in the dairy business, so a good year to do whatever you can to limit input costs without reducing crop yields. Notill equipment has greatly improved over the years, and (especially if it’s time to trade corn planters or grain drills) you should consider purchasing one that will do both conventional and notill planting. Notill has the capability of saving time — and topsoil.


Note: This article came from the Miner Institute's Farm Report.