How to get the most out of your ground soil

With planting season well underway, attention now turns to the growing season. The success of any crop can be attributed to the soil it is grown in.

Soil is a combination of many different compounds and it binds together organic and inorganic materials, as well as elemental nutrients. One environmental program director says that the key though is the organic material.

According to the National Pork Board’s Marguerite Tan, “It not only holds nutrients, but it also holds water in place, which allows plants to be able to access it. In my mind, it’s kind of this storage locker-- the organic material like manure-- it builds those soils up and it provides a storage space for those nutrients and that water. And so, at the point that the plants need it, they can go into that storage locker, they can open that storage locker, and they can access those nutrients that they need of that water.”

She says that pig manure is a renewable, organic resource that can also provide nutrients to the plants.

“So, manure is liquid gold. We don’t want to waste it because it is that valuable. So, to ensure that manure is not wasted, producers utilize what’s called a nutrient management plan to ensure the right rate, the right time, and the right placement of that manure,” she states. “In that nutrient management plan, producers use things like soil sampling and plant tissue sampling, crop mapping, all of these precision technologies to be able to create this nutrient management plan to make sure we don’t waste any of that manure.”

According to Tan, good environmental practices are part of everyday life for pig farmers. She says that they understand their responsibility to the land.

“Farmers were the original conservationists, which is despite all of our accomplishments, we owe our existence to that six inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains. This is a vitally important topic,” she adds. “Without that topsoil, if we don’t take care of that topsoil, we would not be in existence.”

Soil types vary around the globe, but she says that soil remains as the foundational building block, holding those nutrients and water for plants.