Dirt is a Four-Letter Word


Hearing the word “truck” can paint a much different mental picture depending on whether you hail from the North or South.  Is your mind imagining a bright red Peterbilt or is it a sleek, silver F150 that’s before you?  While you may be safe talking about “dirt” with your kids in the yard, talking to a soil specialist is an entirely different ball game.  “Dirt,” you see, can be a curse word if you’re referring to the very lifeblood of agriculture.  Let’s call it soil.
Chris Augustin, NDSU Extension Area Specialist in Soil Health, told Haylie Shipp in a recent interview that, “Dirt is one of those not-so-good words in my profession; we kind of look at it as almost a curse word.”  When it takes 500+ years to create an inch of topsoil, you can see why he shows so much respect.  “It’s the basis of all agriculture,” said Augustin, “it’s a limited resource the we need to protect.”
With some of our region’s soil under snow and even more rock hard with weather, what can we do for our soil management in the off-season?  Augustin says that if you did soil sampling last fall, now is the time to assess what you need and get those orders lined out with your elevator/fertilizer dealer.
As for that planning, North Dakota State University’s Dr. Dave Franzen has put out new nitrogen recommendations for wheat and corn.  According to Augustin, it isn’t just a yield-based model.  With this, he takes into consideration tillage practices, where you’re located, and the economics of commodity and input prices.  For more on those new recommendations, CLICK HERE.


© Haylie Shipp 2015

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