Soil nutrient and organic matter improvement and maintenance in a crop rotation system
I would like to improve the effectiveness of my poultry litter applications and improve crop yields. I try to conserve as much soil and organic matter as possible and try to minimize erosion through cover crops and minimal tillage practices. I apply composted chicken litter and other natural fertilizers but have found that my soil tests indicate significant differences among fields. Over two years, some parts of my fields were quite high in phosphorus while other parts were quite low. Dr. Evans, a cooperator with the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES), suggested we look at soil and tissue nutrient differences among soil depths and crops throughout the season to better understand how my system should be managed to maximize fertilizer efficiency and vegetable yield. We hope to share our results with other growers in Mississippi and other hot humid areas.
I believe I can improve my crop rotation and fertilizer practices to better preserve organic matter and improve soil health. To do this, I need to understand how my practices influence organic matter and nutrient levels over time. Dr. Evans and I will look at changes in soil organic matter, soil nutrient levels and plant nutrient content at specific points on the farm. These points will be representative of my rotational and fertilizer practices. This will help us develop an understanding of how my system can be managed to maintain and possibly build organic matter, minimize erosion, and improve crop yields and quality.
With this grant, I will do repeated sampling of the same locations in my fields. I will combine data from these soil samples with yield and tissue nutrient test results to come up with strategies for future management of my system. Dr. Evans will work with me to sample several depths and along several grid points and contours of my two fields. We will follow organic matter and soil nutrient levels over two seasons. The data will be used to develop better nutrient placement and timing methods. The results may also influence my rotational choices and cover crop strategies.