[Market-farming] Managing fertility in light vs heavy soils

John Ferree john at seldomseenfarm.com
Mon Feb 23 08:06:40 EST 2009


Hello,

My wife and I are day dreaming about finding a new farm. . . we'll see
how the markets treat us this year, but long term we need to move.  We
rent ground from my family and don't have the  option to buy or make
capital improvements. . . tile, outbuildings, pond, etc.  Without these
improvements we don't feel our operation will be limited in the next 2-3
years.  Our frustrations, in a nutshell, are drainage, groundwater,
cover crops, and cultivation.  Many cultivation tools (bezzerides,
lely/blind weeding) are poorly suited to heavy soils.  Our subsoil gives
us drainage headaches each spring. . . and ground water isn't above 20
gpm @ 100'.  Why not move somewhere that we have choice on tools, ample
irrigation water, and a soil that works with us. . . We're in the
midwest just north of the glacial divide.  Our choices on soil are
limited.  Either clay loam in the north or clay loam in the south, with
the exception of river valleys.

There is valley ground that isn't too flood prone, and have focused our
search there.  But I have no experience with lighter soils. 
Conceptually I understand the difference. . . a silty or sandy soil is
more drought prone, and doesn't hold nutrients as well.  In organic
systems, what is the difference in managing P and K with light soils? 
Are applications of manure or purchased nutrient sources managed more
strictly?   Basically, what are the practical differences in fertility
management between the two types? 

John




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