Making Hay
Week of November 2nd, 2003 | The weather was normal.

Cribbing ear corn.

Cribbing ear corn.

Hello everyone! The weather has been normal for this time of the year. We finished picking corn this past week. We also received the results of our soil tests this past week.

In all of our fields that we tested, we have high organic matter. Organic matter is like crop residue - dried up leaves, stalks, etc. We had an average of 5.6% of organic matter. This test result shows that our soils are not being used up with our organic cropping practices. Our soil acidity test levels revealed that only a few fields will benefit from adding any calcium sources like limestone or eggshells. Most of the fields have an acidity test level close to neutral.

Level farmland with good fertility is ideal for cropping. Most land is not level and this is measured in terms of slopes. Slopes are a major factor in causing soil erosion. Some land is so steep that cropping is not even an option.

How do you measure slope in a field or track of land? Here is an example of how the slope of a piece of land is measured. Put a flag in the ground to mark your points (point A, point B). Then, using a transit and measuring stick, measure the points.

Point A is 9 feet and point B is one foot. Subtract the two measurements: 9- 1 = 8 feet. Measure the distance between points A and B. The distance is 300 feet. 8 divided by 300 equals .026 and multiply that answer by 100. The final answer is 2.6 %. Read on to find what kind of slope that is.

Point A is 5 feet, 6 inches and point B is 8 feet, 3 inches. The distance between points A and B is 34 feet. What's the slope?

8 feet, 3 inches - 5 feet, 6 inches = 2 feet, 9 inches, or 2.75 feet. 2.75 divided by 34 = .08 multiplied by 100 is 8 %.

Slope

Name

Land use

0-2%

nearly level

crops

2-5%

gently sloping

tillage

5-9%

moderately sloping

small grains, grass

9-14%

strongly Sloping

grass, hay, pasture

<14%

steep

trees, CRP, grass, pasture?

Here is what good soil should look like: (Each letter is a symbol for a horizon)

O   O.M. (Organic Matter) 1/2 inch deep
A   Top soil 2 inches deep
E   gray layer
B   Sub soil/Clay 6 feet deep
C   Sand/Gravel
R   Bedrock

B- bottomland, D- intermittent drainage way, F- foot slope, T- terrace, U- upland

Farm Fact: Our farm is in the Cresco Lourdes Clyde soil association area. These soils are named after the towns that lie near large areas of soils that meet these descriptions. Cresco is only 25 miles away and the town of Lourdes is just 7 miles north of our farm.

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