November 22, 2021

Adding and Spreading Pasture Nutrients With All Four Feet on the Ground

Want to improve your pastures? Work with your manure spreaders to get the good stuff on the ground!

November 8, 2021

The Amazing Power of Compost to Increase Forage and Carbon Sequestration

What if you knew that doubling your forage and increasing long-term carbon sequestration was as simple as spreading a thin layer of compost on pastures? Would you do it? In 2008, my friends John Wick and Peggy Rathmann began a study to determine how much carbon is sequestered in soil as a result of managed, […]

June 28, 2021

Using Wood Ash to Improve Pasture Soils and Forages

Graziers in many parts of the country often deal with acidic soils that are low in several nutrients. In many parts of the United States and Canada, farmers could improve their pastures by occasionally applying wood ash. Wood ash is a byproduct of several industries that burn wood for energy to make electricity, steam, or […]

June 7, 2021

I’ve Got This Weed In My Pasture. What Does It Tell Me About My Soil?

Can weeds tell you about soil health issues? Well, yes and no. I’ve got a lot of experience with weeds since I’ve spent the last 17 years teaching cattle, sheep, goats and bison to eat them under all kinds of soil conditions and all kinds of landscapes. My observation is that spotted knapweed does well […]

May 24, 2021

What’s Your Soil’s Texture?

Figuring out your soil’s texture is as easy as mud pie. Here we show you how to do a little hands on testing.

May 17, 2021

Predatory Soil Bacteria Hunt Like Vampires and Wolves, Helping Move Carbon Through the Soil

Scientists studying soils are working hard to help us understand what’s going on underneath our feet. It looks like some of what’s happening is a lot like what happens above ground, only on a microscopic scale, with predators hunting and eating prey. While we’ve known about these interactions, we now know that it is part […]

May 3, 2021

Dancing Roots – The Secret of How Plants Push Through Compacted Soils

In the past we’ve written about research that shows plants are better at reducing soil compaction than subsoilers. But how do can they do that? Well, today’s story gives us the answer courtesy of researchers at Duke University. Thanks to Robin Smith and Veronique Koch for this excellent story! Be sure to watch the roots […]

April 19, 2021

A Focus on Soil Health Helps Farmer/Grazier Through Weather Extremes

Forecasters are predicting that extreme weather events are going to become more and more common in the future. This article from Lynn Betts and the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition provides an example of what we can do to “weather” this new reality. You can meet Craig in this 3:24 video where he talks about […]

April 12, 2021

Researchers Have New Information on How Soil Feeds on the Air We Breathe

The soil in a grassland, a forest, a wetland and a desert is quietly working, transforming trace gases in the atmosphere. New research led by Associate Professor Chris Greening from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute has found that more than 70% of soil bacteria feed on the hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane in the air we […]

March 15, 2021

What Do Plant Roots Do for Soil Health?

“Maximizing Living Roots” is the third principle of soil health and it’s focused on feeding the soil. When I first saw this phrase, I confess–it struck me as a bit odd:  since living roots can’t exist without whole living plants, why not just say “maximize living plants?” After a while it dawned on me—if we […]

February 1, 2021

Is Compost Tea a Good Way to Add Nutrients and Microbes to Soil?

Last week’s article on the results of on-farm research about the value of compost tea raised some questions from readers. To answer them, I’ve brought in Robert Pavlis. Robert has a background in chemistry and biochemistry, is a Master Gardener, and author of the book, Soil Science for Gardeners, an easy-to-read, practical guide to the […]

January 25, 2021

Synthetic Fertilizer – Where it Comes From and What it Does and Doesn’t Do

This week John Marble writes about the economics of adding fertilizer to pastures, so we thought it was a good time to take a closer look at nitrogen and fertilizer. This piece was inspired by some info John provided about nitrogen and it’s potential impacts. A Little Background In his 1898 inaugural address as president […]

December 14, 2020

Interpreting Your Soils Test Report

Agricultural soil testing can be used for many purposes, but the primary use is to determine whether or not lime and/or fertilizer is needed, and, if so, how much. The first step in soil testing is to collect the sample, but, for this article, let’s assume you have collected your soil sample, sent it to […]

December 7, 2020

Our Soil-Moisture Reservoir

Here’s another trip into our past to learn from those whose shoulders we stand on.* We talk a lot about soil moisture and the importance of managing pastures so that they can absorb and hold precipitation whenever it comes. With this article from the October 1963 issue of “Soil Conservation,” Cecil Wadleigh, takes us deeper, […]

November 30, 2020

Microbes Can Unlock Soil Phosphorus to Enhance Plant Growth

Phosphorus is a critical plant nutrient. It stimulates root growth, is part of photosynthesis and transferring nutrients through the plant, and without, maturity is delayed and fruits and seeds are few and poorly formed. The good news is that there is lots of phosphorous in the soil, with concentrations ranging from 200 to 6,000 pounds […]

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