Soil Management

CO2 sensor in rye cover crop

Cover Crop and CO2 Emissions February 26, 2018

Do cover crops affect CO2 emissions from the soil and if so, under what conditions? These were among the questions addressed by university researchers monitoring CO2 emissions from cereal rye cover crops in irrigated and dryland no-till continuous corn treatments.

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Figure 1. Aerial imagery was collected at bean emergence using a drone. All dark green rows correspond to plots with different rates of char (10, 20, 30, 40, and 60 tons/acre).
Figure 1. Aerial imagery was collected at bean emergence using a drone. All dark green rows correspond to plots with different rates of char (10, 20, 30, 40, and 60 tons/acre).

Coal Combustion Residue: A Potential Soil Amendment February 22, 2018

University of Nebraska researchers applied char, a by-product of sugar beet processing, at three sites to study its effect on soil properties.

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Charles Shapiro speaking at a Nebraska Extension field day in the late 1980s.

It is Time to Hang Up the Soil Probe ― Reflections on a Career December 13, 2017

In his final article for CropWatch Nebraska Soil Scientist Charles Shapiro reflects on changes in crop nutrient management practices across his career.

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To avoid compacting more of the field, the grain cart should run down the same row middles as the combine. An auger extension may be needed on the combine to get the wheel tracks to line up. The wheel spacing on the combine, tractor, and grain cart should be adjusted to all run between the rows.
To avoid compacting more of the field, the grain cart should run down the same row middles as the combine. An auger extension may be needed on the combine to get the wheel tracks to line up. The wheel spacing on the combine, tractor, and grain cart should be adjusted to all run between the rows.

Avoiding Compaction at Harvest October 11, 2017

If you're worried about compacting still-wet soils this fall, these recommendations can help you avoid or reduce potential compaction and its effects on next year's yields.

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Illustrating improved soil aggregates from manure applications.

How Manure Impacts Soil Aggregation July 6, 2017

Researchers compare differences between soils fertilized with three types of manure versus commercial products and note four benefits, including an increase in water-stable large macro-aggregates that hold P differently.

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Chart of potential for nitrate-N leaching in spring 2017

Risk of Nitrate Leaching Across Nebraska as of May 21, 2017 May 25, 2017

Following heavy spring rains UNL soil scientists model potential loss of nitrate-N to soil leaching, finding an average 14% loss from mid-April levels, with three sites with much higher losses.

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fertilizer applicator in the field
Figure 1. Fertilizer is one of a farmer's largest inputs and also the one that often varies the most in price from year to year. (Photo by Bob Klein)

Fertilizer Price Changes from 1994-2017 April 25, 2017

Fertilizer, one of the major costs in crop production, changes more in price each year than many other input costs. This articles addresses how farmers can reduce their fertilizer costs by selecting the most economical source for the fertilizer they need.

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Value of manure

Finding Win-Wins for Manure: Maximizing Soil Quality Benefits March 6, 2017

Manure offers crop production wins by providing valuable nutrients and helping build soil organic matter and an active soil microbial community. Soils with organic matter levels on the low end of their typical range can benefit the most from manure applications that do not exceed the crop’s nitrogen requirements. Organic matter also improves soil aggregates which in turn helps increase infiltration of precipitation and irrigation water, improves water-holding capacity of the soil, and reduces runoff and erosion. Soils with these characteristics experience greater drought tolerance.

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