Digging up details on what it takes for proper soil and land management

EVERYONE KNOWS what soil is, but in agriculture, we pay close attention to our soils to best protect them, so the land can, in turn, help grow larger yields. Though it may not seem so to us, soil is a very thin layer on the Earth’s surface, and it’s easily lost.
Knowing the details of your soil is key in getting the most out of the land, whether you’re raising a crop or growing forages for livestock. Other soil features to explore include the soil’s pH, the nutrients it has and those it lacks, the organisms in the soil, and more. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Florida Division, is a great resource for those looking to increase their soil knowledge.
IFAS Extension Services are another resource. For instance, they released cool-season forage variety recommendations, and many depend upon your local soil. Cool-season forages need moisture in the soil. If the land is not irrigated, they recommend conserved forages or supplements for livestock. Another point is that small grains are more drought-tolerant than rye grass, as are vetch and winter pea. Knowing your soil’s moisture content is key in choosing a cool-season forage.
There are a number of different soil types in Florida, but most of Central Florida consists of sandhill karst terrain, and the typical soils are made up of sand, clay, and organic deposits. Features of the soil include permeability and good aeration, rapid drainage, and rich organic material. In short, it’s good for agriculture but requires consistent irrigation.
Whether you’re a rancher raising cattle for beef or a vegetable grower, soil and the management of it, is a vital part of your sustainable agriculture operation, and utilizing the resources available will help you along the way.
This column is sponsored by AgAmerica Lending.
BIO: Donald Harden, the Relationship Manager for AgAmerica Lending, grew up in the cattle and citrus business, managing a family ranch of several thousand cattle and horses. He has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate business, and more than 20 years specializing in agricultural sales. Don has owned and operated farm and ranch supply stores, machinery auction companies, and farms. He has served as a director and on the board of the Cattlemen’s Association, as the manufacturer’s representative for ag equipment companies, and as a beef cattle specialist for a national feed company. Don has traveled across the U.S. as a sales rep, conducting seminars and fostering long-lasting business relationships. Don enjoys his work at AgAmerica, as he has never met a stranger. For more information, visit www.AgAmerica.com.